LETTERS FROM THE ARMY AND EGYPT

 

This Collection of letters are those written by RJLM to her parents between July 1942 when she went into the ATS training through her period in Bletchley Park to the end of her stay in Egypt in early 1946.

Originals in P38-01

Currency: the accumulated inflation between 1943 and 2004 is about 25 times.

i.e. £1 (1943) = £25 (2004).

240 pennies ("d.") = 20 shillings = £1

 

Bletchley: 4

1943. 16

Travelling to Egypt 17

Mrs Byron, Durban. 27

Durban. 28

Indian Ocean. 30

Egypt 37

List of Friends. 88

 

 

July 1942                                 August 1942

October 1942                              November 1942

December 1942                             January 1943

At Sea Jan/Feb 1943                       Durban

Indian Ocean                              April 1943

May 1943 - Egypt                          June 1943 - Egypt

July 1943                                 August 1943

September 1943                            October 1943

November 1943                             December 1943

 

January 1944                              March 1944

April 1944                                May 1944

June 1944                                 July 1944

August 1944                               September 1944

December 1944

 

January 1945                              February 1945

April 1945                                May 1945

June 1945                                 August 1945

September 1945                            October 1945

November 1945                             December 1945

January 1946

 

List of friends


A good description of Egypt leading up to and during the War is in:
”Cairo” by Artemis Cooper.
RJLM’s close friend, Leslie Pares (O’Malley) is mentioned on p254.


A few letters written before marriage:

Llys Owen,

Wynn Avenue,

Old Colwyn.

 

22;X:41.

 

My Darling Ma and Pa,,

       Am so glad that you have managed, to get away. I presume that after all Mr Cullwick must be all right. I do hope that you will have good weather, it has been lovely here all this week, all sun, but so cold. Am so pleased it is nice for Bunch and Peter, it makes such a difference even in London.

   We had some bombs somewhere in the vicinity the night before last, so I heard on the wireless. But they were reputed to be at Rhyl. There is a siren on now, that's three nights running, unbelievable for here I should think. I haven't appeared on the fire-watching rota yet.

   Well I have fixed up for some new digs. I am going I think on Sunday week. Miss Cohen is going on the Saturday or the Sunday. The address is Fairholm, Alanson Road, Colwyn Bay. I don't know the phone number yet, but will let you know as soon as I do. It is a much nicer house, and light. The latter is such a relief, and I believe that blackout is reasonable. The two females seem quite pleasant, they are spinsters, and I fancy their father was something in Manchester. They are of very indeterminate age, but I should say  about 50, but I may be out by 10 years. It is about 5 minutes walk from Westfield.

   Miss Cohen is throwing a party there on Saturday night, as her ladies, as she always calls them will be away. It is at 8-0. Should be fun. One J. Smalley came in to talk to us this afternoon, she is a T.A. too, and we all came to the conclusion that it was a bad  system to go on calling each other Miss so and so, so that has been  dropped, thank heaven, with the exception of the clerk in our office, who appears to like being called Miss Stromberg.

    By the way I think 1 forgot to tell you what service we are having. In case you didn't get it from the vicar:

        a. A Chopin Nocturne, prelude(?) voluntary. Blame Donald.

        B. Jerusalem, instead of wedding March.       "   Me.

        C. Psalm 19,  I won a silver spoon            "    "

                      readin this, and so like it.

                      or anyway do.

        D. God be in My head... This is a             "   Donald.

                      hymn cum anthem, the

                      no. I have forgotten.

        E. Mendlessohn's Wedding March.

 

 Then of course all the other things, but 1 am not sure of the order. I think it will be a lovely service.

    I haven't heard anything about flowers from Donald Ma, he said that he thought he could get a bouquet made by Bees, they are just by Sealand, if he can't, and I will get him to let me know before the week-end, I will write to Bakers.

    Well I must go to bed. Have a good holiday.

                  Lots of Love,

 

 

 

                                                                                 


Westfield

Llannerch Road.

Colwyn Bay,

                                     28;X;'41.

Darling Nanny,

      This is just a note to say that I hope you not trying to do all my washing in one go, I don't want any of it back before I come home, with the exception I am sorry of the hankies! The rest of it can wait. I am sorry about the towels, but apparently she doesn't do them. I suppose that you are away now, I hope you have a good bit of holiday I expect that you need it. Enjoy yourself. Ma didn't tell me where you were going, but I suppose that they did shut the house.

    It seems incredible that we are going to be married only a week on Saturday. I am so excited most of the time, I can't work. I even dream about it. Everything seems to be progressing quite smoothly, considering the difficulties. I had a sweet letter from Mrs Maitland this morning. She sounded really very pleased. I am so glad. I also heard from Peggy, you know Donald's sister in law. She sent me some coupons, which I thought was sweet of her.

   Am very busy dealing with all my correspondence. It seems to have accumulated to enormous proportions. Di will be very glad to be my bridesmaid, so that is all arranged. I am glad I asked her. She seemed so pleased. She is going to wear pale blue. I have chosen a most beautiful frock in chiffon velvet. It is plain, with a lovely gored skirt, and a train, and a heart shaped neck, and long tight sleeves. I can't think what to wear on my head. I wondered whether feathers would look nice.                                    ^-

    I am going over to Chester on Saturday afternoon, to try and do some shopping, as I can't get anything here, I tried last Saturday. Donald won't be able to get off till it is nearly time to go home, but that is really to the good, as I should never get anything done, He has got to get a wedding ring too.

     On Sunday I am going to move my digs as you know. The address is Fairholm, Alanson Road, Colwyn Bay. The telephone no. 4583. Would you tell Ma the no. as I have only just discovered it.

      I hear Ma J, has made me a lovely cake. Am longing to taste it. Hope everything isn't too hectic for you. Have just realised that you will not have time anyway to send me any hankies, as I shall be coming home on Thursday and you won't be washing till Monday, so don't bother I will stagger along without them, I have quite a good selection. Could you though wash my new ones in my under-clothes suitcase, and most important, trace some of my hankies. My favourite blue on, large with hem-stitching is missing also quite a number of my others. I presume that Ma and Bunch must have them as I have only lost one lately to my knowledge.

     Must go to bed now, as I am tired, as I got the curse yesterday, and stayed away till 12 in the morning.

                        lots of Love,

                                   Rosemary

 Can you ask Ma to book me a hair appointment for Friday morning, and Daddy about my petrol coupons when they come back.

 


Bletchley:

Hut 72

4 Company

No I.A.T.S. T.C.

Tahvena Camp,

Northampton                                        21:VII:42

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

   It was lovely to speak to you all yesterday. In some ways I was quite relieved I couldn't over the weekend or I would have howled terribly and upset you all v. much. I must say it is just utterly revolting. I don't mind the eternal waiting about, drill etc, nearly as much as most people, but I'm a awful snob. I hate sleeping with other people, particularly so dirty, and all this congestion??, squalor and disgusting food. But I just keep saying its one day nearer Donald, and there are only 6 more days here etc. I must say I am lucky in the two other women and ?? people in my hut, though not quite my type, they are of the same social standing and we get on well together, and never move apart. We have to get up at 6.30, and have breakfast, the best meal of the day, at 7.30 after cleaning kit and buttons. Have been walking or rather standing ever since. My feet appear to me about the best ever! Have an hour nearly off now, so have to be v. quick. Have had to dash off a p.c. to Donald for stockings. Am returning them to you as frightened of losing them. They're heavenly, but B. and Ma. Size 9! Am informing him of this. The cable was a N.L.T. night letter telegram as he was worried, not sure what I was doing, so am cabling this p.m. Got your letter your letter this p.m. Ma and from Joypi[1]. V glad. Haven't been able to read it, but hope to while Elizabeth and I drink tea sedately and without speaking in the town, we get off at 4.30 this p.m. Not till 8 yesterday. Will try to add a bit more to this letter then. Sorry about writing but the rush is terrific. I must do my hair etc but I go on parade in 20 minutes.

   By the way my wireless is v. welcome, I am able always to listen to the 7 o'clock news and 1 o'clock. Great relief there is one in the hut, but a terrible one.

    It is so nice the Church's being here. They're just the same, I am going there after doing some shopping in the town. I can keep the pop.pop[2] outside the hut, and since it poured all the first two days we were here, I hope it won't for a bit.

    Mummy, I am being more than polite, and flatter myself the Corporal, (can you believe it!) in charge of the hut, thoroughly approves of me. I am quiet, quick and polite!

     We are very odd, the 15 Cambridge people. They had to ring up the War Office about us. No one had ever heard of "Y" service. We never seem to have anything ???? ??? us, they've even forgotten our pay books! Well goodbye for the present. Will post this this evening.

     Please can you send me 2 pairs of stockings, two coat-hangers and another padlock and chain.

 Tea Time

     I am now sitting in a really sordid tea shop with Elizabeth quite exhausted with just standing and waiting. We had a lesson on how to clean shoes and buttons and how to put out incendiary bombs. This took no less than 3 hours! Well nearly!

    Thank you very much for your v. nice letter Ma, I have been able to read it at my leisure. I must say I envy you greatly picking fruit. Will you thank Bunchie too for her letter, I will endeavour to reply to it tomorrow.

    Having our heads inspected ..... It makes me quite physically ill .... No less than 25% of the people in my hut, 28 in all. I now wash my hair with pretty near neat dettol every night. Its one of my most appalling nightmare. I never thought such a thing existed, and they don't care. It didn't embarrass them one bit. It appears there is one other female in this racket for the same reason as me. A husband in Egypt. Must find out more. Some of the people were told, that only the people who were very keen would be sent. We think we get commissions at the end of the course, the next one.

     Must stop. I miss you all terribly, please write to me lots. I have such a nice family.

            Lots of love, R.


A.T.S.

24:VII:'42

 

My Darling Ma and Pa.

      Last letter from this terrible place, thank heavens. No one knows what is happening to us. The C.O. said she had to deliver us to Loughborough. She told us that she had no idea whether we were to stay there or not, we are just to be left at the station! We are causing great astonishment from the C.O. down, as everyone else stays 4 or 5 weeks, and they tell everyone what to do etc and the War Office has told them nothing about us at all. Wouldn't it be funny if we were sent to the same place as Donald was too. I don't believe the RAF uses it any longer, its part of the engineering college there. If its OK, I think sometime I had better have my typewriter for your sake, but I will let you know. I don't know what room there will be.

      Marvellous having two letters, a cable and stockings from Donald all in one week. The letter was posted last Thursday!! Isn't it wonderful, and the other 3 days before. He has written you and airgraph Daddy to thank you for something, but what he didn't say. Poor darling, he's very fed up but has the work and is very busy. He has also bought part share in a sailing boat, 17', and is quite crazy about it.

       We have been having intensive drill, the 16 intelligence people. You've no idea how much we learn everything than when we have to do it with the other females in one of the huts. I quite like drilling. Really, I mean just to do the little we do. The C.O. told me yesterday, we wouldn't need to learn much as we wouldn't ever need it as we were special, and the Sgt. (man) who takes us keeps saying we must learn enough to be able to tell troops what to do of necessary. They all seem to think we'll be given commissions soon. I do hope so. Thank goodness no more P.T. or games? Anyway. There is definitely one other female, Mrs Grant Lawson, American, who is in the (same) boat as me, and wants to go to Egypt.

     I am sorry about Colonel White, I am sure everyone will miss him a lot. I wonder why ever he had to go dashing off like that. I suppose it may be because the ATS are taking over the AA[3] so much. Do you think that is possible?

     Thank you very much for your letter Daddy and the lock. Its to lock up my locker. Well I must stop for a bit, and clean my buttons!

 

5.10

Have just have had tea and am now waiting for a kit inspection. Have just had a more than hectic day.

 

Up  6.30 make bed, clean hut, buttons and shoes.

7.30  Breakfast. Wait 20 minutes, eat for 5.

8.30 Inspection

Drill

10.0  Collect clothes

10.15 Break

10.45 collect more clothes

    Lay things out for kit inspection

12.30 Lunch

1.30 More kit

2.0 Drill

3.0 Lecture

4.0 Pay parade

4.45 Tea

 


all marching about the camp.

   We are definitely going to Loughborough, to No 4 M. Intelligence School. I think we shall then have a course with the ?? going into it, and then get commissions. This is my view entirely. But I have never heard of anyone who didn’t have you Daddy? I mean in the ordinary army. All the officers and W.O. who have been rushing us around today seem to expect it too.

    Got soap coupons, and 10 clothing today. Am going to take my pop-pop down to the station after kit inspections and get some food. Am quite worn out. I do hope after this we lead a more comfortable life. Am longing to come home again. I could come on the pop-pop I should think from here, its about 40 miles isn't it? But I suppose the trains are terrible, all cross country. By the way, we are attached to the London area, at least No.4 M.I. school is. I really think as a job it should be v. interesting.

    Am very sorry for the enormous parcel of laundry. Could I have my coats and shirt cleaned, my shoes mended, and the blouse washed. I will wire the address tomorrow, then you'll know where I am, and ring up if I can.

    Fancy Auntie Emily moving.

     Lots of love R.



QUORN 21

Please phone after the news I'll be here!

Please will someone cash the enclosed for me

No violent hurry.

 


Beau Manor Park

Woodhouse

Nr Loughborough

1:VIII:'42

 

My Darling Ma and Pa.

    I am just utterly exhausted! I have never done so much concentrated learning about things of which I have not the first idea as I have this week. It is very interesting, but I don’t quite see how I shall ever be able to do t. I do so wish I could tell you all about it, I'm sure you would be most interested, I am. And the pity is, I don’t believe I ever will be able to. You would laugh to see me and all rest of the females, sitting at lectures on highly technical things to do with machines and electricity, or along those lines, with quite blank faces, while the 20 or 40men doing the course make intelligent remarks. The men are a very dumb lot, all N.C.O.'s and a couple of officers. The officers are the worst.

    I work from 9-15 till 12.30. Then lunch till 2.0. Then again till, then tea, then work, then supper at 7.0. Then again till 8.45 so that I can get back for the news. Then I go to bed quite worn out. I am perennially tired and hungry. Actually the food is an awful lot better than Northampton, which I have nearly forgotten existed, and on the whole quite edible. The tea however would make your inside curl up, its all made with condensed milk! It is brought in a great big aluminium bucket thing with a pouring thing at the top. I however regard it as liquid not tea, and therefore fare better than most people. Get lashings of sugar butter marg. jam and cheese, and oddly enough, very nice lettuce. We have a very nice orderly, one Ruby! same like Lady Dartmouth! Who procured for me ¼ lb of marg. as I said I wasn’t going into breakfast tomorrow, as Mrs Paulson said she would give it to me in bed! I got 1 lb, but someone else got the same idea, so I chopped in half and gave her ¼ too!

   Thank you both very much for your letters. I am sorry I haven't written again this week, but you will see why from above. Re my car, yes I think it would be good idea to licence it. The insurance, it is insured till the end of December, Good heavens, I've just remembered, and the registration book, are with a number of similar licences and such like in an old bank envelope somewhere underneath the sliding lid in my bureau. The envelope is quite easy to find I think, as the papers are bulging out of it. I have just been into Loughborough and have collected my new petrol book.

      I hear the 8.0 news in the morning before I start, and had gathered that it was Birmingham that was bombed. A newspaper doesn’t exist at Beau Manor. Am relieved to hear the works are all right. Was it two or three nights running? My spies inform me that there have been sirens and even a bomb dropped here, in fact every night except two since we arrived, but I haven't heard them except one alert while I was getting up one day. We had one the last night before I left Northampton and a lot of people got out of be and clambered inefficiently about and tried to put up the blackouts, and couldn’t, so finally I climbed out and stuck up my two shutters at my end of the room, and went to sleep again.

   I am sitting in the Paulson's garden at the minute, in a deck chair. Went to Loughborough after lunch to do some shopping. We get from Saturday lunch time till Sunday night off. Do hope I will be able to come away next weekend. Shall have to go and do some work tomorrow morning.

     Wasn’t it marvellous 3 letters from Donald. That’s five since I have been away. They were rather oddly dated 28:VI:'42 1:VII:'42 and 21:VII:'42! Letter lovely  and quick. The mail was held up at his end, and he was in a state of depression because he hadn't had any for 10 days, no less! He said he was working 14 hours a day in the one of 28:VII:'42, but that they had created a record output or something for all the M.U.'s ever. I think it had slacked off though again. He didn't sound so busy and was sailing his new boat.

     A canteen opened up today in Beau Manor for all uniforms. There I got 20 Players for 1/6 and a KitKat chocolate crisp! I get a ration of 10 a day at 9d normally, though I believe my runs out at the end of the week. We have been getting them from a store up-saris? Thank you very much for the stuff I had in my laundry. I rushed it open immediately and finished it in hopes! Feel rather like a dog. We don’t get an issue of chocolate, but get it when any comes with the cigarettes, which is not often. I can vividly imagine Mrs Farmer's window. Fancy peppermint creams. I seem to get through an awful lot of cigarettes just sitting all day with no elevensis, and also everyone smokes in lectures, including the lecturer. However now there is a canteen, will be able to get tea (condensed milk type) and a bun. We even have it on Cornflakes and porridge (porridge?) for breakfast. Of course my taste being so common I quite like it like that!

      Thank you for doing all my laundry. Yes the shirts are quite decent. But I think the colour comes off rather on my underclothes. I might think about wearing the night-clothes, only they are very thick convict striped long sleeved blue flannel pyjamas. A bit hot in this weather I think!

     Must be very difficult for you with Bunch not being able to drive either. So glad the frocks were a success, though quite why they sent them home I do not know. I particularly said would they send me them at Northampton. At least to the Church's, however it doesn’t matter. Sorry to have missed C.B.'s party. I must write to Wulf. Did you got to tea with Mildred Sherpenberg?

   Shall be thinking of  you on Monday. Do hope its not like last bank holiday. I didn’t know the works were closing all the week, Daddy. I hope you will get a bit of P&Q in spite of the H.G.

Lots of love and longing to come home. R

P.S. I should love to make a cake sometime if you can spare the stuff.

 

 


 

                                                      Rhondda House,

                                                      Fenny Stratford.

                                                      Bucks.

                               30:X:'42

  

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                 Isn't this weather shocking? I am so sorry it is like this while you are in London, it makes it all so much more difficult getting about.   Cant remember whether you said you were coming back on Friday or Saturday. I do hope you will go and see In Which We Serve Mummy, anyway.

     When I got hack to my fury, I discovered that they had told me wrong, and I wasn't on till midnight. They apologised handsomely, not that that made much difference. So I am on midnights till Tuesday am. Then evenings. I am getting tired of being on there peculiar shifts, I have not been on days then for 6 weeks.

     Well, its happened... I feel like Donald, he said that to me, one Saturday lunch time, way back in January. I was told on Thursday evening. Don't know when my embarkation leave It, but it must be soon, as they hope to get us off by the end of November. Can't see it myself, since they haven't started doing anything about kit yet, but I suppose to-day nothing will be happening, and to-morrow everything will be in a ferment, and we'll be going to-morrow. Ginny and I, Rufus and Lindsay are all going, which is v. pleasant. They are the two other people I like best, and I think 3 officers, and Mrs Player, and 4 other O.R.s  whom I don't like much. I am sorry, very, it is an awful thing to have to do, but I do want to see Donald so very badly. I can't believe it, sitting here in the cold and rain, it is just incredible. Shan't till I actually get on the boat.

     I am having Tuesday a.m. till Friday evening off next week after midnights, so I am going to see the Maitlands, and stay one night with Buff, so I will have all my embarkation leave at home. Though I should think it will be weeks before we get moving.  Donald you remember went exactly one month after he should have done.

     What a lovely age ago my weeks leave does seem.

                        Must go to bed now.

     Ring Bletchley 101 if you want me, but not Saturday, as Ginny and I are going down to the Fountain for dinner.

                          Lots of Love,

 

 

Handwritten:

 

Sorry, I brought this away by mistake. Isn't it a pity, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff - Nye? - came round yesterday and I was on nights.


 

                                                           Rhondda House,

                                                           Fenny Stratford,

                                                           Bucks.

                                      2X1:'42

                           

      My Darling Ma and Pa,

                           Am feeling decidedly shivery, can't make up my mind whether this is due to sitting in a room with no fire, or injection! Had T.A.B. and tetanus a few hours ago. My gosh it is cold. Ginny is going to bring hack a paraffin stove when she goes home this week.

         Well we were going in three weeks, from last week, ie in a fortnight. But M.I. 8 rang up the War Office, and said that they couldn't release 20 people just like that, and we couldn't go till the next course is over, and that we would go on the next troop convoy, when the second draft were due to be going. That is the first week in January. We are all wild, if there is one thing I wanted to avoid it is spending Xmas here. But I must say it would have been the most appalling rush. PLEASE DON'T MENTION THE DATE TO ANYONE AS it involves a whole troop convoy. I suppose Dr Mc Geoch will be going in a fortnight. I am going to try and wangle Xmas embarkation leave, though I am afraid this is a very faint hope, as they are already trying to persuade me to have it. Ridiculous. Still I may know more when Capt. Firnberg, the head of my section comes back from leave to-morrow.

         I came off nights last night, thank goodness, and promptly slept for 14 out of 24 hours! I just couldn't sleep this week during the day, there were two people in and out of the room all the time as they were on evenings, which isn't exactly conducive to sleep. I am going to try and get a bath now, as the water might be hot, I tried it about half an hour ago, and it was just warming up. I have just come away from the Park, it is 6-30.

    Have had lovely hot bath thank goodness.

    So glad you, had such a good time in London. I adore the thought of Carol Ann wearing gloves. I will go to Harrods and see about the pink coat, but I am afraid that it won't be till Thursday, probably, as I am going straight through to-morrow, as I would like to be there in time for lunch. Oh I don't know, if I get up by 11 or so, I could have time. I'11 see. If I go to the Maitlands now, then I shall be able to come home all the time I have, and possibly meet them once more for lunch or something.

     I couldn't meet Di this last Monday, to-day for lunch as I thought I was still going to be on nights, but anyway was on days, I shall try to next Monday, as I will be on evenings.

   Ginny is just collecting our hot water bottles, I think I shall climb into bed. It is the only warm place. Have had some food.

   I can't think what has happened to Donald's letter, except that everyone else seems to be in the same boat, I am sure though I shall get a cable this week.

                      Lots of love,

 

 


                                                           Rhondda House,

                                                           Fenny Stratford,

                                                           Bucks.

                                     7:X1:'42

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

          I am in the office at the minute, and have just been and borrowed this typewriter from the signals office next door. If I do a of peculiar things, you will have to excuse it, as I don't know how spacing and things work on these large machines. Have just been along to dinner, did rather well, there was lamb (mutton) when I arrived, and pseudo scrambled eggs when I left.

    Thank you both very much for the wire and letter for tomorrow. It really seems like today, being Saturday and so close to the date. Unfortunately Mummy, as I see dinner is off. I do wish Ginny and I could have gone out it would have made it a little less desolate. What a way to spend one's first wedding anniversary. I don't really believe this is me though sitting here. Still it is the best thing I ever did and am ever likely to do, I know, marrying Donald. I couldn't have married anyone sweeter, I am v. lucky. You know I feel almost irritated with this new advance, holding up all my mail, so that I can't even here from him It is so terribly disappointing, and he will be so sick, knowing that I didn't get the things in time. Thank you again Mummy for such a v. nice letter, and Daddy for writing. B. remembered too, I was pleased, so I had two greetings telegrams.

      Sorry I missed you the other night, I just walked, round to see Peggy[4]. The children are growing up terrifically, and are almost like two small boys, instead of babies. Peggy doesn't half have looking after both of them and her fowls and rabbits, making both their clothes. They were both delighted to see me, I think Colin just about remembers me, he is two and a bit.

    It was nice to see Buffy, she is determined to come up and see you! How we can arrange it I don't know but still. I think she is very fond of you. When I get back on to days, I will take a Sunday off, and then we could come up on a Sat. night. Oh I almost forgot, most important, I am working on evenings till next Thursday night, and then come on to days, the next day, Friday 13, the day you see Gone with the Wind. Then I have Monday off, ie, 16th., and don't have to come back till Tuesday night, Wed morning. I don't know what the trains are like yet. This is not bad is it; How odd this machine has no question mark, I can't find one. Then the following week, as I will then have done a week of nights, I shall get from Tuesday a.m. till Friday a.m. off, so I shall be more or less living at home for the nest fortnight. I also think I might have been able to wangle Xmas embarkation leave too. The staff Sgt, on whom really the leave rota depends, merely said resignedly, when I tentatively suggested it yesterday, well of course, I knew YOU would want something like that, but quite pleasantly, and then mentioned it again this evening. I shan't say any more for a bit, as by then, they will have got all the new staff trained, and will be able to do without me all right, actually, he is a nice little man, and eternally apologetic that I have to keep going on these shifts, when he knows I don't like it. Though I must say I seem to get lots of leave.

    This is a nice typewriter don't you think? Found it, most peculiar place.

    By the way, I have had my ears pieced at long last, I managed to get some little gold rings at a shop in Regent St. It hurt surprisingly little, and was a most amazing sensation. I felt the needle push through the first hard outer layer, and rush through the soft middle, and suddenly shoot through the hard outer layer again, sorry to be so revolting, but I was most interested in the different sort of density of ones flesh. Had them done yesterday, they don't hurt at all, unless I catch them. Just have to bathe them every morning for a fortnight, and NOT touch them.

         I tried for the lace Mummy but wasn't awfully successful. Will bring what I did get with me, to-morrow week. Sorry about the little coat, I meant to go on the Tuesday, but I felt so darned ill after those injections that all I could do was to fall into a taxi and go straight to Waterloo. The effects nearly all gone after lunch though.

          Don't think there is any more to tell you.

 

Lots of love R

 

Quite forgot, thank you v. much for the cheque, but I owe you £1, it was for £2.

 





                                   Rhondda House,

                                   Fenny Stratford,

                                   Bucks.

                    21:Xll:'42

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

               I thought I had better to write you a letter of explanation to tell you what is to do.

    I am sorry I was so dopey on the phone last night, but quite honestly I was asleep when it rang, and had been for quite some time, and so my brain wasn't working very well. I was terribly tired, as Ginny and I went down to the Fountain for dinner on Saturday, and then when we got in about midnight, all the other people in our room were on midnights, and so they came in and we all went and had tea and filled our hotties, and cleaned our "buttons and shoes, etc. So eventually we turned the light out at about 1-50, and as you know had got up at 5-30, I was pretty tired, in  fact I went to sleep with a book in front of my nose reading.

   Captain Firnberg, the head of my section , came in and told me on Saturday evening, saying he thought I would like to know the latest, that I am to have leave from Jan 1, to  Jan 7, and then to report in London, and from what I can gather we go immediately then. All our clothes are being collected, tropical I mean, I have had to give in the size of all my things, including my hat.1  See me in a sun lid! It will be funnier still.  To complicate all this, Ginny has just had a cable from Peter to say that he was coming home the next day!  She has actually thought he might be for the last few weeks, and so there is to say the least of it, one hell of a shindy going on.  Very fortunately for her, her Mother in law's cousin is G.O.C. Northern Command. He has rung up M.I. 8 to say she can't go, but the ill-feeling... Also it is of course very complex to find someone at this stage to take her place. I must say I am shattered she is not going, but still she will of course be getting out of the A.T.S. altogether.  Well she deserves it he has been gone just three years.  But I am glad that I an not in her shoes, I mean with the row.

    Well to continue.

    I am going on to nights for the last two days that I am here, ie. the night morning of Wed. 30th. and the night morning of 31. This means that my leave, in practice starts at 9-0- a.m. Thursday the 31. I therefore think that it would be a good idea, if as Bunch and Peter and the baby will be up in Lytham, to got straight up there for one night and see them, if the Waddells can put me up for one night, and then come home on say Jan 1. till Jan 7.  But I am going to ring you up to-morrow night about all this, when they have arrived.

    Isn't it going to be fun, as I am not coming back here ever again, even after the war. I have to bring all my kit home with me, see me reporting at an A.T.S. depot in London with two kit bags, two suitcases, and a zip bag, plus a rug, bag, wet pack, and various other sundries!

   Phillis Goode has come but I haven't seen her, but nearly everyone else has.

   I do hope you are better Ma, really. Don't overdo it whatever you do.

   Well I must stop, since this is all being written in my lunch hour. Thank goodness I do know something at long last. We have a draft number and everything, but I haven't discovered it yet.

   with lots of love,

                                                    

 

 


                                             Rhondda House,

                                             Fenny Stratford,

                                             Bucks.

                             27:XII:'42

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

       The last letter I shall write you from here, I trust.

       Well I hope you had a good Xmas, and that everything went off well. I am so sorry I missed speaking to you Daddy, on each occasion. Thank you for ringing up on Xmas day, it cheered me up enormously. Not that it really felt like Xmas a bit. It was just like rather a gay day, and that was all.

       I am longing to see Carol Arm this week. I feel you are being traditional grandparents and thinking she is really terrific and will be able to do no wrong! Was highly entertained to see a parcel addressed to her as Miss Carol Ann Waddell!

       Well at any rate, I had two Xmas dinners, one at lunch at the Park, turkey, ham, stuffing, etc, and v. good mince tart, or Xmas pudding. all well cooked, and then Ginny and I had an excellent dinner again at the Fountain. There were their four servants, a Belgian chef and his wife, a French maid, and an Italian girl, who are all nice, a Canadian Colonel and his wife, quite young, 40 ish. A lieut, same ago, a droopy young man, and a v. funny other man with a face just like a blood hound who made us laugh so much all the evening playing the part of a waiter, very disgruntled that we didn't know what to do. We did the washing up, while the staff sat down. We then played murder and charades until about 2-30, when Ginny and I crawled very wearily to bed, we didn't have to be on duty till lunch time on boxing am. so it was o.k.

   All the leaving people, the right type, and one or two other right types are having a party to-night to celebrate. So trust yon won't ring up as there will be no one in our room.

   Am going up to town to have lunch with the Maitlands on Tuesday as I am changing over to nights on Tuesday night Wed. morning, and therefore do not work that day. I would go up after work to-morrow night, but unfortunately cannot travel till the Tuesday. Am going to have an early dinner with Beryl and Merry before coming back here to start work at midnight. Feel by Saturday, I am going to be quite worn out missing two whole days sleep in a week, still I shall travel first up to Blackpool, I have a third warrant which I shall convert, and hope to sleep then for a while, I am pretty good nowadays of availing myself of all opportunities for sleeping.

     Wasn't it nice, my bible from Donald arrived on Xmas a.m. I had a battery of greetings telegrams too, by the same post. I really feel terrible about this Xmas, but I felt so sure that I would not be in this country, and then when I knew I was going to be, it was too late to do anything. Marvellous of Donald to have got a cable and a letter to me on the right day.

     I am sitting in the office solemnly typing this as there is just no work to do, a hang over from Xmas, and on the 25th. there was realty quite a lot, which was maddening. I went to church at 11. I must say it was fun singing carols at the Park the night before. We also missed a really shocking party at Rhondda House, by doing so. Ditto Xmas night. By the way, Phillis Goode has managed to make herself remarkably unpopular in very short time, by being officious. I have only seen her once at pay parade, when she just shot out one or two sentences very quickly as there was a queue behind me, and lots of orderlies there. But I have really been out so much lately and think it very improbable I shall see her again. When I hear the awful, stories of inspections and things she is going to institute, I am v. tempted to tell all the dirt I know of her! However, it doesn't concern me, I shan't be there. Ginny sits around trembling, and we all thank our lucky stars for Mrs Player, who is so vague, and realises what sort of a unit this is, still I can't realty think Phil will get very far, as she will just find people won't do it. One can nearly always get out of things by working late or being on nights or something.

    Well happy new year, and I will he seeing yon soon.

                              Lots of love,

Pencil, hankies and wet pack admired by all and sundry as well as recipient!


1943

W/176595![5]

12 Radnor Place,

Bayswater

W.2

13:1:'43

 

Sorry to have missed the lemon cheese! Love to everyone.

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

   Thank you both very much for your sweet letters which I got this morning. It was lovely having you up for the weekend, in spite of the rush. Life is terribly hectic. Yesterday nearly killed me! We all put our lights out at 10.0! I was going to meet Buffy after telephoning you, but was too dead.

  Am going to see Beryl tonight. Hope it will be more successful than last effort. Rufus is having dinner with her brother at the War Office, so hope to get some news.

    Thank you Daddy for news about suit cases. I shall try to get a cheap one I think, it will be so inconvenient otherwise.

      I wrote Donald yesterday saying I expected a very grateful husband!
Lots of love R.


Travelling to Egypt

A.P.O. 4545
C/o Donald
21/1/43 (blanked out, but seems right)

My darling Mummy and Daddy.
  Well we have just sailed a long trip I am thankful to say. We have ----censored  ---------------- if you can work that out! The vibration of the engines is really hardly noticeable, but I think we are probably only doing half speed. It is a warm muggy day, with visibility only about a mile. Such a pity, we ought to be able to see the coast where I lived for 8 months last year!! I could wave goodbye to it then.
   I feel so sorry for all the troops on board the ship. Its terrible for them. I keep on thinking of Donald going miserably last year, and thinking of him doing all the boat drill etc which we do. We are of course all quite happy going of our own free wills. I am thrilled to think we are on our way at last. We were all on deck, B. deck we live sleep on, we were then on A deck, having boat drill when we sailed, so we all leant over the rail watching the line of buoys slip by.
   Have been doing all my washing this am. It is hanging up in my bathroom. Having a wonderful time with handkerchiefs as I have had a cold and catarrh since the day I last saw you, Lindsay has now a stinking cold and cough too. All but my cough and catarrh have gone now though. The view is of course quite invaluable. We are hoping to win an ironing board. The ships electrician was v. nice and fitted it up with a special plug to fit in the fan. Since there are only 4 such plugs on the ships, I think we have done well. Its an old boat ------------------------------------ Censored ----------

Also the fan thing, it wouldn’t work with an ordinary plug, I expect sea air will soon cure my catarrh.

   In addition to oranges every night. We have had fresh pineapples in some form twice!! Can get Lux[6] on board and sea soap, all couponless. Two blocks of chocolate a day cigarettes 1/4d for 50! Eno's, Talcum powder etc etc. I have every intention of sending B some Lux for her nappies.

    The day is quite unorganised at present. Called 7.0 Breakfast 7.30. Inspection of cabin 9.30. Boat drill 10.0 - 10.30. Lunch 12.0 Dinner 6.0 Lights out 10.0 or 9.30.

   We spend all the day at present sitting in our cabin, sewing and talking. We have 3 common A.T.S at our table, ie Nicola Lindsay, Rufus Jean and mine, who sit quite dumb since out conversations get more and more erudite! We have some belonging to another lot, about half again as many as us on board too. You'd hardly believe it, but not one of them has brought a single book. They haven't one book between the whole lot. Honestly can you believe it. We are of course loaded out with books of all sorts. The other ATS are of course causing trouble for us since they have no idea how to behave, their offices too, at least the head one, are a shocking crew. Believe ATS know nothing etc. Well of course theirs don’t. Still our officers are sweet and do all they can to moderate the effect for us.

    The new lot from the 3rd course are quite pleasant. They all have London degrees. Were evacuated to Cambridge so we have quite an amount in common. Some of them are rather foolish, but pleasant.

    Well think I shall go on with my sewing now. I shall add bits to this letter whenever I feel like writing. Think that is the best. Am keeping a diary, but unfortunately it can't be sent to you, as I don’t see any point in keeping a proper one without putting in details, such as no.s of troops etc.

   The boat has now started rocking gently. I got some Mothersill! Have just discovered I can post this in 1 hours time. Am going to write to B. Lots of love to you and everyone.

R


N.B. We haven't got any place yet. Still cold.

Sorry to end this letter so abruptly. ---------- censored ---------------

I don’t know how long, or why, and may post another letter. Do wish we could get going. Have waited so long, I can't waste another day!

   I do hope Donald knows by now. Reckon he ought to have got your cable.

 


C/o Donald,

Barclays D.C.

 

Date blanked out (censored?) but Jan 1943[7]

(She left Liverpool about 5 Jan for Glasgow and then in convoy).

 

My Darling Ma and Pa.

   I am lying flat on my back on my bunk recovering - I hope - from sea sickness! At any rate I have up to date managed to keep down my lunch, soup, prunes and biscuits and cheese and butter and an orange. The first meal for tap days! Don’t worry, I haven't really felt very ill, just unable to keep anything down, just like car sickness. I am quite all right as long as I lie flat, and occasionally am all right on deck. It was very funny this a.m. at boat drill, which we have at 10.0 every day, there were far more officers (men) unable to attend than ATS. Poor Mrs Player has been invisible from the first. The North? South? West? East? Atlantic, is not recommended for cruising in January anyway.

    I must say I spend hours a day hanging over the side. The destroyers decks (previous three words blanked out, but readable, just) are all awash as in the best films. But then or course, so are ours. It really was rough yesterday. Its lovely leaning and watching the ships heaving up and down and the terrific waves. The colour of the water is magnificent, and is covered with white horses and spray everywhere. My face, even on the promenade deck, is encrusted with salt. The wind is high too. We saw a school of porpoises this a.m. and are hoping to see flying fish in a couple of days or so. For the last three days, I have lived between by bunk and the deck ... All entertainments - thank heavens P.T. are off. We have been to a couple of ENSA shows which were quite good.

    I am really quite happy lying on my bunk reading and sleeping, there's nowhere to go anyway. The ship is overcrowded. Feel incredibly sorry for the men. Its quite appalling. Occasionally I have a few words with a Sgt or so, many of them are in the Regular and have been this way before and live it.

    Before this, I lay and thought of all the things I must read before we go ashore. I have been making lists! Like Bunch. Think I'll send her things to you instead of to King???? in case Peter has been posted.

    It makes me cross to think of Donald never being ill. He said all the china and glass smashed etc on their boat as they have on this. I nearly got thrown out of bed, but sleep through most of it. I have got the bottom bunk and it has an arm to keep one in.

   I bought some lovely peppermint chocolate at the canteen, I wonder whether I dare eat a piece. Maybe not. I'll have some butterscotch.

    I will finish this at a later date, when there is something less sordid than whose ill and who isn't, in the way of news. Poor Lindsay is v. bad.

       Saturday

       Its getting much warmer now. I've been on deck half the day without a greatcoat, and I've left all my underclothes off days ago. I suppose we shall soon be in tropical kit. Lovely thought.

     It really is amazing what a short time it is since I last rang you up. It seems ages. I do hope you are not worrying too much. I know I am going to miss you an awful lot. I've had such a very happy lucky life up to date! I am fundamentally sure, in spite of my top pessimism, that everything will turn out all right. I hate to think how I am going to manage without home. At the moment, I just don’t think about it quite firmly. I feel an awful swine really leaving you. War is awful. It so appals me to think of all those men being taken away from their families, not that I think they mind so very much, but I shall never forget what I felt like when Donald went and how I've missed him. But of course you know what its all like with the last war. Anyway, I'll never forget you.

    Have just had dinner and a little constitutional round the deck in the sun etc with Sheelagh - a Girton girl. Very nice. I like her more and more. We slept together at Rhondda. She's so funny and very quiet till you get to know her. She read English, and give me little lectures on what and what not I should read. I feel a bit shy of expressing my rather, I feel, poor taste in poetry and literature to her. She's most interesting. She also seems to know a fair amount about odd religions, another topic which I like to talk about by the hour.

    We all went to a party in the Sgts. Mess last night. I was quite shattered. I feel so embarrassed, I don’t know how or what to talk to the men about. To begin with, half the time I can't understand what they say. If I talk normally, it would sound so snobbish. I shan't go again. Oh I did play whist! It reminded me of Nanny. She's a dab hand isn't she?

    I'm not a bit bored. We have lots of literature. Daddy, Rufus has a most interesting book I ma reading at the moment, called Science for the Citizen by Hogben. You'd love it. Lots about the stars. I find it very interesting. They also have Penguin books in the canteen. We all planned our literature so carefully that we have a very varied selection of books.

    Rufus and Jean are trying to learn a bit of Arabic, I am doing Science for the Citizen etc!

    Its amazing how much we all know about each other's families! It will be so odd sometime in the future to meet them knowing all about them.

     I'll give you a specimen day to see what I do all the time.

     Yesterday, Friday.

     Breakfast 7.30-8.15

     Deck 8.15-8.45

     Do Cabin 8.45-

     Inspection of cabin 9.30

     Boat Drill 10.0

     Deck 10-11.0

     Cabin - read. Talk sew write letters etc  -12.0

     Lunch 12.0

     Cabin or deck 12.45-2.0

     Pay Parade 2.0

     P.T. 2.30 - 3.0

     Cabin or Deck 3.30-6.0

     Dinner 6.0-6.45

     Sgts Mess 7.30-8.30

     Deck 8.30-9.30

     Bed 9.30

 

    Occasionally in the afternoon we have a lecture, and P.T. 3 times a week, I think and Pay parade only on Fridays. In fact most of the day we do nothing. The main timetable is we are not allowed on deck 11-12 and in the afternoon much as the men do P.T. which will be v. trying in the heat as our cabins are very hot. Also we can only go on half the promenade deck, not the top deck, officers only. Therefore nowhere to sit.

    Oh by the way, we have to sleep in our clothes except skirts and ??? and shoes and always carry water bottles and life jackets and haversacks! No alarms yet though, Don’t worry.

   It is such a pity I can't tell you where we are or anything. You'd be so interested.

    Would you mind sending Donald a letter card or something when you get this? I shan't write to him it wouldn’t be worth it, and I couldn’t possibly cope with having one officer's censor it, its difficult enough writing to you and everyone, although of course its not their fault.

     By the way, you'll be delighted to hear I grow more and more like a balloon every day. I must have put on pounds! I've burst completely out of my skirt! I'm delighted! I eat all day, when not eating large meals, I eat chocolate toffee and biscuits and wax fat and contented. Donald will be so pleased too I know. I just can't believe I'm really going to see him again, and every knot is taking me nearer and nearer. It appals me to think of you hating it and Donald longing for it. Oh I do so wish this didn’t have to happen.

    Will I don’t really think there's much more at the moment. I could burble incessantly, but I think I'd better write to everyone else for a change.

    With lots and lots of love, and I'll always remember you and home and all the things you did for me and made possible for me to do. It seems so odd to think of you going on at home just as usual, and I'm not there. Its awful.

   R   (signed here by the Censor)

Love to everyone.

    Beatta, Ma, Joy, Butters etc. I'll write Nanny and B of course and the Cyrils and Gladys.

 

P.S.

Mummy I am appalled. I thought I had that picture of Bunch and Peter with me. The Catherine Bell one. It’s a smallish size. Could you send it. It must be with my others somewhere, with our wedding ones I should think probably. Would you, could you have one taken? I would like it. I have one of Daddy. I promise you I'll have one taken in and out of uniform and with and without Donald at the first opportunity in the best photographer in you know where.

  How are all the incipient babies. Joan White, Colin and Bunty, Jo Ann Booth?

 

P.P.S. 

 Re cash. I not only didn’t spend my £10 but had £2 more! I therefore have now:

 £20  travellers cheques

 £12 Csh (two fivers)

  

 £32

 

We are paid 10/- a week on board which more than covers expenses on board such as sweets cigarettes books. I wear this, my pearls, gold pencil and gold bracelet on that chamois leather belt, night and day.

  The men and sgts are setting up a brains trust. I represent the A.T.S.!

   I am still very worried and fed up about that lovely suit case. Its such a waste. Its maddening. Going to Church now.

 

 

 


 

176595

CPL Maitland RJL ATS

RQAFF R

C/o APO 4545

On board

Date?

 

My Darling Ma and Pa,

    To set your mind at rest. I am divinely comfortable. In a 2 cabin with Jean (Cambridge too). Rufus and Lindsay connect with us by bathroom. We have running water, hot. In our rooms as well. Its really officers officer's quarters. We also feed in the Officer's Mess! This was all much after the journey which was really shattering.

   I was awfully sorry, of course I couldn’t let you know at all that we were off. We had no idea ourselves till a couple of hours before. I do hope you didn’t come up to see me or anything. It would have been so awful if you had arrived and found me gone. I do hope now you will go away and have a decent holiday. Go down to Land's End or somewhere.

   I really am incredibly lucky to be going. Its marvellous. I just can't believe too that I am really going to see Donald after all this time. Gosh, we will be so happy and thrilled when he gets your cable. Its certainly going be an experience anyway.

  Well I think I shall go to bed and write some more in the a.m.

  Next a.m.

  Life is trying to get organised. We are all receiving strict instructions about trying to keep the worst behaved type of A.T.S. in order! Even if I am a most unmodel A.T.S. I can be trusted not to do that!
   This is so terrible, there is absolutely nothing I can tell you at the moment. Can't say anything.

   I am only allowed to put 3 letters in the envelope to the base censor, so would you let Bunch know for me that I am all right, very comfortable and thrilled to be on my way at long last. I wrote her such a v. fed up letter from the last place, about two days ago, after a full kit parade when all I wanted to was to die quietly.

   It sounds terrible to say I am thrilled to be on my way. But I just couldn’t stand all those good-byes, and I know you must have hated it too. Because you know how much you and the Manor House mean to me. Soon, when the first thrill of newness wears off, I guess I shall be very homesick. I don’t know if I ever told you my first Sunday at Colwyn Bay, I suddenly burst into tears all over Donald, who was terribly sweet, realising I was homesick. I didn’t quite understand what was happening at all.

    Give lots of love to Nanny, I feel so worried, I hope she won't crack up while I am away. Don’t let Bertie forget me, its me he really likes! And see that the cats don’t loose weight.

    Lots of Love R

P.S.

  One of the three letters in the envelope I had to write to Donald and the Mathes?

   My cheque book did NOT arrive, Could you possibly let the bank know and they could cope and cable or something.

   Thank you v much for the Horlicks tablets. They are most useful.

  Oh, I have about 4 cheques left.

 

   Use Donald's address or Barclays D.C to await arrival.

  Also if you want me, I shall go to the Newton Thompsons if we call there, and the Byrons if we call there. You can cable me if necessary. Donald's change of address or anything.

 

PPS

 We had oranges for dinner last night and WHITE rolls.

  Eggs and bacon for breakfast and white rolls and white bread.

  They say, the steward does, that we are going to have grapefruit!


C/O Donald

3.2.'43

 

My Darling Ma and Pa,

    Am starting another letter to you though the first one hasn’t yet been posted, as we haven't come to a port. I am struck dumb with my own conduct, I thought you'd like to be struck dumb too. I have taken to having cold showers before breakfast! At least I started this morning. This makes life a little rushed as we have breakfast at 7.30, I naturally get out of bed at 7.29, having got Jean up at 7.25, as she's slower than me. Rufus and Lindsay get up about 7.25 too, and we all rush under the shower in our bathroom in quick succession. Its of course sea water. I can't stand it for long, it makes me laugh so. It tickles. I had one one day when it was rough, and to see me trying to stand in one very wide slippery bath and cope with the shower handle made me quite hysterical, so I had to stop abruptly.

  We very theoretically have lights out at 9.30, which makes life rather trying as we can't sleep till at least 11.0, so we either lie and talk, or I retire to the lavatory with a book for an hour. Strike me as being a nonsensical idea. Generally we do what Buff and I used to do way back in my last term at Lawnside when we had a two room at the top of the Grove(?).

    Very pleasant surprise yesterday, we are now allowed to go on a deck lower than the promenade deck, that's the one which goes from end to end of the ship, the lowest. We can then get some sun. So I spent all yesterday lying on the deck reading. The congestion is of course terrific. One lies all over the rafts and life saving apparatus of all kinds as well as hatches, masts wash basins and under clothes ??? hung up by the troops, not to mention bodies of every shape and description. I read my geographical journals all the morning and improve my mind. After lunch, one Tommy came up to me very politely, (most amazing) and said would I mind telling him what I was reading, as he had - from boredom - spent all the time trying to make out what it was through a telescope. He took one shattered look, as it was something to do with scurvy and scuttled away!

    We have mow taken to having corned beef hash for breakfast, which is a little shattering. In one of Donald's diaries, he said that the food remained based on the weather when we left - I quite agree with him ... Ox tail! in the tropics. But he did say that when the water got short, they stopped having soup twice daily.

    The sun now gets up and down like a silly symphony. Its amazing. There are some lovely sunrises and sets though.

     Oh, I forgot to say that one gets so little sun on the promenade deck as the lifeboats are strung over the ship in tiers so that they can be let down more quickly in event of the ship going down, so the sun just slants down through the propellers and between them.

 

   Sunday

    Have just been ironing 2 shirts, on our ironing board (the bit you pull out of a chest of drawers to write on approximately 9"x24"!) hankies etc that means no far as we plug the iron in there. I have quite given up wearing clothes in the cabin, a towel round my waist sufficeth! Well anything else gets soaked in about 5 minutes. My I recommend ironing in a blacked out ship, within a few degrees of the equator for heat! It makes me roar with laughter to think of me of all people standing with just a towel to absorb one's sweat! Sorry to be so revolting, but it amuses me so much. Don’t run a way with the idea, I don’t like it, I do! I'm enjoying it, its so novel. I have to have at least a clean shirt a day, so I'm always washing and ironing. What would we do without my iron, I hate to think.

     We were allowed to go down to the hold this afternoon to get at our other kit bags, so I got out my multi coloured frock to wear as sports kit for 2.0 till 6.0. Very sporting! And my red sandals. It was interesting going down into the bowels of the ship through all the troop decks. Amazing, we descended through the floor of the butcher's shop.

 


Note added:

   Sorry this all had to be cut out, as there was pages about something we apparently can't mention. Hence lack of sense.

 

(ie the censor removed a part - probably relates to stop at Mombassa)

 

They hang around all day for pennies and get lots. Still you know the procedure at ports much better than I do. Its all such fun. But I do wish Donald were here, and you weren't all at home in England in such a horrid mess and cold. I feel a bit low too with all the loving couples all strewn about! Not that I wish to emulate them, but it will be nice to have a husband again! It always made me so jealous at home with everyone like Gordon and Marg (Swanson). Still it won't be long now.

  I am going up on deck now till bed time - 10.30. The ship isn't blacked out till then in this port, and it is heavenly lights everywhere on the shore and ??? on deck as lights and stars (this part crossed out - censor?)

    Yesterday ENSA sang from the boat deck to the troops on the troop deck. I was on the promenade deck in the middle, and they sang some folk songs (the troops I mean) really beautifully. Its all lovely. Its quite cool too. Actually today has been very pleasant, I lay on the deck all the afternoon in my silk frock, and did nothing except for an hour when I went and played Housie Housie (Bingo) with the troops. There's one staff sergeant who follows me everywhere, and produces blankets for me to sit on, cigarettes, drinks etc from nowhere, and tells me all about his wife all the time. They all do at the slightest provocation. I feel so very, very sorry for them all, with me going to Donald and knowing how miserable Donald was to go, and me to be left. (Have just looked at my tummy, a pool has accumulate! Please don’t be horrified! Its so funny, I've never been like this before!). So I sit and listen while everyone  tells me about their families, and show me photographs. They're all so plain too.

     Oh isn't it perfect, from now on all other ranks including ATS are issued with one bottle of mineral water a day on H.M. Govt! We drink gallons of them.

   Am going on deck now for an hour or so. Will continue this later, or rather another day, as it won't be posted for weeks.

 

After a lapse of 10 days or so.

 

   It has been incredibly hot, and is now getting cool again. So sad. I am wearing your new jersey ma for the first time, over my shirt and drill skirt. Its no warmer than English summer now. I shall never think England warm again.

   Lindsay has got engaged. Isn't it terrific? To a man in the same thing as us. He's very nice, and she's a picture of love's young dream. Can't help feeling they ought to meet each other's families before getting married though. I feel awfully old!

    There's quite a nice officer on board who was at school in Shanghai during the last war with Francis and Jack. Isn't it incredible! We discover the most amazing things. I have even seen some pictures of his, also Jean, the girl I sleep with, cousin is engaged to the man with whom John Gibson shares a flat!

   Have done quite a bit of sun bathing. Rufus, Sheelagh, Jean and I usually sit on the troop deck with some men in the same racket in the afternoon on the rafts. These are thrown off the boat if it sinks (like Noel Coward's film). There's usually some breeze there right in the bows of the ship. Its very hot, and one gets beautifully burnt. I am not very brown really owing to wearing a pith helmet, dark glasses and not being allowed to wear a sun top. Such a pity.

    How are you getting on? I was allowed to send 2 EFM cables today. When they will be sent off I don’t know. Hope they won't take too long. Wanted to get a third for Joy's birthday  but couldn’t, so sent you and Donald one. Don’t forget, always look carefully at the numbers on the cables. You can nearly always tell the date. I always can. The last two in a block of numbers usually are it.

     I do hope you are all right Ma, and have not been ill again. Trust you have been away for your spring holiday. Its so amazing shut up in this ship. I feel completely out of touch, and as though life in England must have stopped where it is when I left. Shall long to get your letters. Am writing a day by day letter for Donald. Hope it will amuse him. Do so wonder whether he will be in khaki or blue when we meet. This is the last sheet of my block of paper, so I think maybe I had better end this letter.

 Nearly everyone but me has had gippy tummy due to the heat (Donald has had it once out there). I haven't! I swell with pride! I like the heat.

   Have written B. a long letter and the Maitlands. My letter writing has not been so prolific this lot, last time I managed 16, this time so far only about 8. There isn't much really one can say.

    I must say I do long for somewhere comfortable to sit, a glass of milk, a decent cup of tea, and some of Mrs Jones's[8] cooking! Everything tastes the same. I drink little but iced water and Eno's!

    Don’t please worry about me, honestly I'll do all right. Do wish I could communicate with you more quickly. I miss you so much,

    With lots of love, R

Also signed by another - probably the censor.

 


Telegram:

58 C CW T 600 OVERSEAS 25 FEB

EFM PARKES OAKEN WOLVERHAMPTON

 

ALL WELL AND SAFE ARE YOU ALL RIGHT PLEASE DON’T WORRY

ROSEMARY MAITLAND.

 

In pencil, Recd 17 March 43

 

 


Mrs Byron, Durban.

2 letters as airgrammes relate to this period:

 

Mrs L. Byron,

Willingdon,

Kloof Natal,

S Africa

 

28.2.43

 

Dear Mr Parkes,

 

You'll be glad to hear that Rosemary, looking very well, and full of the joy of life, had dinner with us today, Sunday. We wished Frances[9] could have been here, so that they could have met, but Frances is in Johannesburg, but Pauline is down on "sick leave" after a period in hospital, so she could tell Rosemary all Frances's latest news. Rosemary seems to have enjoyed every moment of her comparatively quiet life since she left you. She sends you her best love and will write as soon as possible, but I expect you may still have to wait for a letter for a while. Rosemary enjoyed seeing all our flowers and plants in the garden. My husband was here and was delighted to meet Rosemary once more and to hear your health was so much better. He joins me in kind regards to you both.

 

Yours v. sincerely,

MA Byron (Mrs)

 

A. Norman Henwood,

3, Eastbourne Rd,

Durban,

March 6th, 1943

 

 

Dear Mr and Mrs Parkes,

 

Last Thursday I heard from Joan and Bunny that Rosemary had been up at their house the previous day, so I rang her up at her hotel and asked her to come and have tea with me in my office that morning,. I had never met her before but we were soon good friends. She is looking very fit and is quite happy and is enjoying Durban. I took her home for lunch and she then met my wife and daughter, Elizabeth. Yesterday she came to lunch again and spent the afternoon here. We were to have played tennis on our own court, but unfortunately rain prevented that. Actually it rained all Friday and Saturday and half of today, but it looks as if it is going to clear-up now. Our summer is nearly over and the days are getting cooler and more pleasant. We do not know where Paul is now, but he has joined his new destroyer HMS--- which was apparently only commission last month, and might not even be at sea yet.

 

We are all well here and my wife and I are kept very busy on YMCA war work, which is increasing always. It is difficult to get supplies: cups, saucers and plates are just unattainable: we have to use heavy tin cups and plates instead. I suppose you know that Joan and Bunny have another son, born six weeks ago. We saw Joan today and she is quickly getting strong again. We were trying reckon when you were out here: I think it was early 1934 before we got into this house, but I believe it was being built at that time. I hope you are both well : we will look after Rosemary while she's here : I will advaance her some cash if she wants it. Our love to you, sincerely yours Norman

 


Durban


The following 4 short letters are on what appears to be photographically printed paper. They are airgrams.[10]

 

Mrs DS Maitland,

51 South Ridge Road,

Durban

8.3.43

 

My Darling Ma and Pa,

  Have been meaning to write this for ages. Went up to Bunny and Joan about two days ago. Am very well indeed, the food and fruit is heavenly. Sorry there is one hell of a lot I want to tell you but can't. Our plans are however completely unchanged. Everything is still the same. I have got a job while we are here, sorting men's letters - casualties - and finding their addresses. Wonderful idea! The Henwoods are being sweet to me. Had lunch at Norman's yesterday. Hope you are all right. Have sent baby clothes and 2 food parcels to you. All love R.

 

Mrs DS Maitland, in transit  11.3.43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

Well I am still here, and I must say I am enjoying it enormously. If only Donald were here instead of at the other end, waiting. Poor darling. I have cabled ......censored....... Have had several meals with both Norman and Bunny and Joan Henwood and the Brysons - they are all being most sweet. I saw Frances for one day which was v. pleasant. Did you know Joan has just had a baby - boy - James - and was v. ill. He is 5 weeks old. Am living in a hotel on the front. Comfortable. Good food. Working quite hard. 8.20 12.45, 2.14 4.45. Sunday and two afternoons off. Redirecting casualties mail. We are just doing it while we are in transit. Hope it won't be too long before I get there. Lots of love R.

 

Mrs DS Maitland, in transit  18.3.43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

Do so wish we could get some letters here. I am longing to hear how life is home. Just finished my day's work, had a bath, am now going out to dinner. To a canteen! They are excellent here. Wonderful food as good as the hotels. It embarrasses me, ma, I corps men who take us out always will pay, and no one can get any more money. Its all I can do to pay for my own cigarettes. Lindsay is engaged to one as I told you. Then there are 2 others v nice who take Rufus and me out. Am longing hourly to hear from Donald. The Henwoods have coped for me. No news yet of how long we are here. Not that I could tell you anyway.

Lots of love to you and everyone R.

 

 

Mrs DS Maitland, in transit  19.3.43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

Have at last managed to borrow a typewriter to write to you though I am afraid you will have to use a magnifying glass to decypher it, though I have seen Donald's to his family and they are pretty good. I thought I would mail several of these together, Making it one long letter.

    It really is so lovely here, I shall in all ways but one be sorry to go, the thought of packing again is shattering. It has been raining pretty heavily for the last two days, but seems to be clearing up again. I have never seen anything like the rain, one day we had 6 inches. Ever since I have been away, I have wished I had, a, binoculars, 2, pocket meteorological instruments, and a book on the geography and geology of the country, no one know anything about it, and cares less. There doesn’t seem any way of finding out either. About the only thing I have discovered is which are cannas!(?)

   Feel I ought to give you a specimen day of what I generally do all the time. Scramble out of bed dead at about 7.45. We have managed to convince the chamber maid that we, Lindsay, and a girl called Sherry, and I do not like in fact, hate to be called at 6.30, stagger down to a hurried breakfast, egg bacon, toast and marmalade. 8-20, start to work. 8-30, arrive, then we sort the casualties mail and redirect to different hospitals or wherever the people have gone, all the time eating fruit and grapes. Lunch 12-45. Generally not in the hotel as the food is lousy, in one of the numerous pleasant milk bars instead. Then back to work at 2-15, and on till about 4-30. Very often we get let off early, and one afternoon off a week as well as Sat. and the whole of Sunday. Then I usually go back and have a bathe, and surf, and then a bath. We usually find the I.Corps men waiting around for us or on the beach, then we finally go out to dinner, and they catch the 11-40 train back to the camp they are in.

    Altogether a very hectic day. We are, I believe not supposed to go out alone at night, and anyway I wouldn’t like to, with all the coloured people and troops in varying stages of alcoholicness about. I have been to one or two flics since I have been here, two to be exact, but mostly we mess about outside, it is so lovely or go and dance someplace. It amuses me beyond all measure to think of myself wandering about with a bunch of privates. The mane who generally looks after me though is very pleasant, tall stringy and blonde, 30, with a wife and was before the war, more or less and idle rich man, who raced cars and motor cycles in between wandering around Europe. He won't .....

Rest missing.


Indian Ocean

 

C/o Donald or Barclays D.C.O.

(Probably written between Durban and Mombassa)

 

My Darling Ma and Pa.

   Have discovered that I can post a letter to you tomorrow. I have actually written no less than 20 pages. But unfortunately half the letter hangs on a fact that I can't mention till we get there, so I shall send yours and Bunch's and the Maitlands when we get there, by air mail. So I guess you may even get the letter before you get this.

  I am quite comfortable, very hot, and slightly bored and longing for news of you. Mildly worried at the thought of the difficulty in contacting Donald, getting leave etc. but I fail to see how they can refuse me this.

   Very sorry to leave Durban, but for seeing Donald and leaving you. It'll be heavenly to arrive, find Donald and read dozens - I hope - of letters. Can't imagine anything nicer, except maybe - but not quite - eating fruit again!

    I do hope and pray you're not too worried considering the length of time I have taken to get there. I am now getting rather bored with being on ship I must say, but have enjoyed the whole thing enormously. I do so wish I could think of you enjoying life too. Its so awful to think of you still being at home, and life being so dreary. It is rather awful to think of enjoying war - but till now, when I am getting rather bored I have, and am sure I will, if things work out to plan when I get there.

  ------censored ------- news, details of life here etc, are in my 20 page effort, and 10 more pages to Bunch, so I will air-mail them when I get there. Hate to think how much they'll cost.

   Lots of love to you and to Nanny,

        Rosemary.

-------- censored ---------------- the post of

                                 best. More information when we arrive. Don’t know whether we go ashore or not. Do hope so. Would love to see it, knowing how you liked it.[11]

 


H.M.T. -------

Somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

 

Back in the land of rigorous blackouts - worst crime in the penal hierarchy, smoking on deck after blackout, carrying life jackets everywhere, + water bottles and bags, lying on one's bunk under the fan wondering whether it is better to sweat and spend a comfortable night in the cabin, or sleep on deck, be stiff in the a.m. and be woken at 6.0. I naturally do former, and sleep from 11.0 till 7.45. The day is so long if you get up too early.

    This is a lousy little boat, and believe it or not, all native troops, but for a few officers and Sgts - officers who were once Sgts! Sheelagh's words not mine! Darkest Africa are however quite charming in their way and very clean. They play drums and bugles and are generally rather like that. Their mess decks are miles cleaner and smell much less than those of the Imperial (English) troops on the last ship. Isn't it pathetic. They are not allowed to make much noise, especially after dark for fear of submarines, as sound carries so over water! Poor things, I feel so sorry for them, they are sick as dogs - the boat heaves all over the place, even in this velvet like sea, and don’t understand what is happening at all. They are so tidy too, but have a tendency to wear their greatcoats and lifejackets all the time.

   Having darkest Africa instead of Imperial troops has a few advantages. We are allowed on the boat deck and can wear bathing suits from lunch until dinner, providing we walk through the natives properly clad. I am hoping to get quite a lot browner. I have stopped burning thank heaven. We also have a lounge with a few Sgts - about 6 or so, which isn't bad at all. Such a relief after the last ship. We even get tea at 4.0 with pretty reasonable little cakes. Much better tea and coffee this time and food. I am lucky, I am in the second sitting now with the officers, Sgts, ATS and Lindsay and Jean. Breakfast 8.45, lunch 1.15 Tea 4.0 Dinner 7.0. Much more sensible hours. Bed 10.0 Inspection 9.30 - boat drill - as always 10.0. P.T. no more thank god owing to the heat. I therefore sleep nearly all day. All afternoon in the sun anyway. After dinner I sit on deck with Sheelagh and Jean and look at the stars and say how far away they look and pick holes in the people we don’t like. I am sharing a two cabin with Lindsay. I have the top bunk this time. It is more roomy than the last time, though unfortunately - no bathroom or porthole. But we haven't nearly reached the hottest point yet.

     Am just dying to see Donald. It will be just incredibly wonderful to have him again after all these months. Its all so unreal. I wonder what he'll look like in khaki and how brown he'll be and how much thinner and what his moustache is like and so many things. We land 1 1 hours by train from him or thereabouts. Am also beginning to worry vaguely about getting leave when I arrive. Still I don’t really see how they can refuse me on such genuinely compassionate grounds. I do hope he'll be pleased to see me. I suppose he will.

    I was terribly sorry to leave Durban. Quite shattered. I so enjoyed the few weeks we were there. It was all so dream like and unreal and detached from life, it was very difficult to believe any other world existed. But, of course, for longing for to see Donald, I'd never have wanted to go, and even that feeling was lessened for the time being, it wasn’t quite so urgent, knowing that I would eventually. Mow its only a matter of days. I don’t believe it really, I won't till I see Donald's smile. I've travelled half way round the world to see it! But I have enjoyed it.

   Both families of Henwoods were very sweet to me. I was sorry I couldn’t see more of them, but it was such an effort to get there, and then to get back again. They always had to bring me back at night as we were not supposed - or rumour has it - to go out alone at night without a male escort! Not that I would have wanted to at all. The town seethes with troops and sailors of all varieties and stages of sobriety, as well as hundreds of natives. People tend to get knifed if one is not careful and wander into the wrong part of the place. There being few police about nowadays. In fact one night when we were having dinner - as we did some 3 nights a week - in the Free French Club - two ATS Sgts were there, and one wanted to go home before the other and got sent back by some redcaps in a motor cycle to get her friend as they didn’t want her wandering around near the native quarter alone at night. Wonderful place the Free French Club. Really more or less a canteen run for the French by French people, who mostly couldn’t speak English. Dinner 1/-!! A largish quite decent room with about 12 or 15 little tables with checked table cloths. Dinner, soup v. good. Meat v. good and vegetables - all cooked divinely ice cream and fruit salad and/or fresh fruit. The last time we were there I ate a whole pineapple. The fruit salad is of course always fresh fruit - peaches, bananas, grapes, passion fruit, pineapple, apples etc. No better cooking anywhere in the town. We used to dance there too while having dinner to a radio gram, and play ping pong. We used to stay there till it shut and then wander up and down in front of the sea, Oh such lovely warm nights. I always meant to bathe, but Charles never would bathe ??? It was very hot and the sun was out. Incidentally the water was 78° one day I noticed! That is the Indian ocean too! We didn’t often have dinner in the last hotel I was in, in fact I had dinner there twice, and lunch once. The food was lousy. At the hotel we were in for the first few days the food was good. They charged 2/6 for soldiers' dinners! This amused us frightfully, especially as every night Ken and John and Charles had two helpings of every course! Some 5 or 6 in all! Still they never had any food in their camp, too late for breakfast and lunch was lousy. A nice lot of men on the whole. I really found it interesting to know some Privates! Really I mean it! Charles almost talked me round to his point of view, why for 31 years he has refused a commission, there is a subtle dignity in being a private. Especially when we met and fed with some of the officers of the ship who had terrible accents compared with our Oxford or Cambridge ones! And of course in our racket you so the same work anyway.

     I wish I cold remember how much of all this I have told you before. Still forgive me if I repeat myself.

     The only thing I regret is that there was no-one who knew anything of the country who could tell me anything, and that there wasn’t more time to get around. Still on two of the Sundays we were there I went once 20 miles out to the Byrons and saw some of the hill country and thought it was lovely, and once about 10 miles down the South coast to Amanzintoti. We also went North two or three times out to a place to dance, in the open. A marvellous drive through sugar cane! I always meant to pull a bit off and suck it. We saw the monkeys too. The Norman Henwoods took me round the Burmes Drive .... wonderful views and monkeys ...

   Of course the only thing we ever though much about in Durban was the food. Doesn’t it sound awful? But really after England and the ship - where the men were not only badly fed but actually hungry, and so were we part of the time - it was heaven. Jo - the Staff Sgt who shared a bench with me - and I used to eat say 2 lbs of grapes in a.m. and 1 in the afternoon, and I of course ate say 3 2oz bars of chocolate as well. Had a milk shake on the way home. Then a bathe and than the serious question of the day. Who was going to eat where, and when. Then of course immediately we had finished dinner, which we had early - about 7.0, it was nearly time to go and have a drink in one of the numerous milk bars - army drugstores. In fact on one lovely occasion, when Jean and Sheelagh came up from Unkomaas - where the ATS who were working had been sent 30 miles along the South coast - we actually did a milk bar crawl! I wouldn’t like to think how much milk I drank that evening. I think it’s a lovely habit, all these milk bars. They're a thousand times nicer than any in England. They are so much more original etc. I do hope there will be some where we go. I am missing it now.

   Darling Mummy and Daddy, I hope you won't think this is too awful a letter to write home. It seems so really, but this life is so detached. The war in Durban, even "up North" as they call the M.E. seems so unreal. It was all more like a gorgeous summer holiday. I felt awful sometimes, lying on the beach in the sun, eating and wandering around, enjoying myself so much, to think of you at home in England, worried to death overworked and underfed - comparatively - though I know you personally aren't. And I'm sure Donald is in a state thinking our plans have all been altered, and he won't see me, or I've been sunk on the way or something. It was all so inconceivable while we were living so happily and comfortably then to think that you could be worrying about me, and that he would be too. Now again I understand that there is a reason to worry! It was so funny the first night ashore, I lit a cigarette in the dark, dropped it in a panic, thinking that I was still on board ship! Oh I do wish you could all have been there too to enjoy it.

     I have put on lbs in weight. Even my shoulders are fatter. I hope to heaven I shan't lose it all before I get there. I am eating as much as I can and trying not to sweat it all away! I've never gone up so quickly as I did in the first few weeks. I'm very pleased. Well of course, I've never eaten so much, and rarely enjoyed myself quite so consistently. We had to keep pinching ourselves and saying is this really Africa? I must say I found the African moon very disappointing. Not even as large as it is in England!

      But I want to get to the end of our journey now. I am fed up with travelling and unpacking and packing and trying to keep tidy under adverse conditions. This ship  too is such a come-down after the last! And it'll be so wonderful to see Donald. Such a change after the other 3 - Ken John and Charles... John is ¼ Spanish, ¼ Italian, and 1 English, name of Romero. The brownest person I ever saw. Otherwise very much like Peter to look at, very irritable unless he slept in the middle of the day, Charles, furious between 5 and the time he started his dinner. They took some coping with. But I liked them, and they were nice to us and took us around. Ken is engaged to Lindsay as I told you. Can't help feeling this is possibly a mistake. I get older and more conservative every day. I feel its so important one should see each other's backgrounds before marrying. They matter so much! - Don’t you approve, Daddy? - But I really mean it. Donald and I interlap so nicely. However, since they are going to a different destination from us, it is unlikely we shall meet again for some time. A pity. I would have liked Donald and Charles to have met. They'd like each other, being mad on cars and both equally good at doing nothing but sleep.

   This letter must be very muddled. I do apologise. I was sitting on deck with Jean and Sheelagh gazing at the stars reminiscently and discussing our journey up to date, when I felt the urge to put some of my wandering thoughts on paper. Its now 11.0, Lindsay is sleeping on deck, and I'm lying on my top bunk writing madly, clad in a pair of pants, under the fan. The bunk underneath me feels just like ironing when the clothes are very hot and steaming! Disgusting!

    It feels just the end of a holiday of some sort, coming home in the car, half way back. One's mind all in a muddle, thinking half of what's to come and half of what's gone. Well I must stop for the minute. I do hope that this won't be lost or sunk. It’s a masterpiece I think of length, even of nothing else.

   Horrors ... I don’t believe I ever told you of the first night we landed in Durban. It was quite perfect.

     We went ashore about 4.30. Lindsay, Rufus and I, clad in stockings - silk - ties, drill skirts and tunics, feeling very hot and buttoned up, having to wear heavy shoes apart from all the other clothes (after this first day we went back to open necked short sleeved shirts, skirts and any old shoes) with Charles, Ken and John, looking unbelievably awful in shorts - Charles' are quite the shortest I ever saw on any man and he has v. long rather the thin side legs, and canvas leggings and boots and to crown it, their drill tunics made exactly the same shape as serge ones, button up to the neck, no shoulders. Just fantastically awful. They were supposed to wear long pants, but got away with shorts being I. Corps (Intelligence Corps) the South Africans were awfully funny - they are so amused by the Imperial Troops - English always called Imperial here - the first lot who came ashore apparently were cockneys, early in the war. They wore long pants or v. long knee length shorts with bits buttoned up to let down to their boots at night to protect them from the mosquitoes, these ghastly tunics, and pith helmets! The cockneys were small too, the S.A.'s laughed till they saw how tough they were. Then they stopped. To continue the South Africans wear v. short shorts by the way, and such better they look. I only hope Donald's are short, I hate long ones, and I'm sick of sewing men's up. But I think he said he took 3" off the bottoms). Anyway we didn’t wear pith helmets.

     We dashed out of the dock, thrilled to bits. You probably remember the docks are right in the town. We all jumped into rickshaws and said take us to the middle of town. Thy did. We roared with laughter in the funny little carts. Remember you sent B. and me a picture of one once. Then we rushed into the nearest shop and bought 6 bananas, a peach, 2 milk flakes all standing on the pavement with lots of other troops all roaring with laughter. This took another 6 seconds. We then hunted for a taxi, and said take us to the best hotel. We want some tea. We all piled in all over reach other, and landed up at the Edward. You may remember it on the Marine Road. Incidentally we were finally in a hotel only a couple of 100 yards along. There we behaved civilisedly. Ate tea, and I phoned the Brysons. Then we went for s stroll. I went to the snake park. Quite interesting. Then we came back and had a drink and dinner. A very wild and hilarious party, thinking it would be our last all together. Not a bit of it of course, we all met again the next night in the same place. (in pencil My pen would of course run out). It was all such fun after being treated - particularly - the men - as the scum of the earth. All the ship were there of course. Everyone was v. gay. Going back we got a taxi to the docks, but had to walk the rest of the way. Real African rain. I've never enjoyed getting wet before. But everything was fun. We walked through a lake. Had to be on board by 12.0. I hadn't a day patch anywhere. I rang the water out of everything even next morning. You should have seen the bathroom with 8 people's wet clothes - of course the funny part was next a.m. - reveille at 5.0, put on wet clothes, pack and have breakfast and set out for unknown destination! Was I tired by the end of the day or was I!?

   Well anyway I am tired now good night 11.30 pm.

 

Next A.M.

 

    I am afraid this letter is definitely Africa from the Troops point of view. It ought to be from the geographer's I know, but every time I got interested somebody sat on me! Very pathetic.

     Have just had a v. pleasant lecture on all these native troops from the military point of view. They seem quite charming if completely without intellect. Anyway quite harmless though I would much rather be in a lifeboat with Imperial troops.

      I am afraid I had to get some more money from the Henwoods while I was there £10. Lindsay and Rufus were idiots ad left the country with very little, so I am afraid I lent them some. I know that you will disapprove strongly of me doing this, but I will get it cabled back when we get there, and what else could I do? We were there so long and there was so much one could buy. B's baby clothes to begin with cost £3-15. I was a bit shaken when I discovered I couldn’t send more than £2 worth out of the country, so I faked the label. I wish I could have sent you more food parcels, but they were terribly expensive, 2lbs of sugar and 2 lbs of fruit 6/9 ... scandalous. They had to be sent from shops and they profiteer terribly. The trouble is to get the stuff packed. They have no tins or bottles of any sort or paper. Much worse off than we are. I sent you 2, both sugar and fruit. There is no tinned butter for reasons stated above. B&P one, the Maitlands and the Waddells. Also B. some baby clothes, and odd assortment of stuff for her birthday. The shops on the whole were bad. But of course the one thing we all bought till we were flat broke was food.

     Oddly enough we hardly spent a penny on drink of any sort. The bars all close at 8.0. The gin is terrible stuff, undrinkable and South African wines too sweet. We had some the first night, and once we bought a bottle of gin and french and had a party, the eight of us, but it wasn’t very good. Lindsay and I the last morning found the remains in the bottom of the wardrobe and drank it. It helped enormously carrying our equipment. For quite half an hour we only fumbled occasionally instead of all the time! However the very slight effect wore off all too soon.

   Norman gave me the cash, and the address of their financial agent in London. It is W.J. Jacksons Messrs Allen, Baldry, Holman and Best, 36 Broad St, London EC1. He offered it me  before I asked! I knew as a matter of fact that we were leaving some days before we did, and so went and got it, I've therefore got some money as I didn’t want to be without any, and still have £10 on me. Everyone was walking round Durban bemoaning the fact they didn’t know we were going to be there several weeks and hadn't brought more cash.

    I am just dripping with heat and steadily getting hotter. We are going into the heat of course. The eternal battle of ironing shirts has started again. I slept on deck for the first time last night, on the boat deck, on a ground sheet and blanket, in a pair of pants and my tropical khaki jersey, wrapped in a sheet. It wasn’t very comfortable, and we had to get up at 6.30, and so I slept in my cabin for another 11 hours. But its v. hot in one's cabin. I don’t mind the hardness but its so light. The moon shone right in my face. As a matter of fact I find a bathing suit better than anything to wear. It absorbs the superfluous moisture! I spend all my money in this ship drinking iced orange lemon and even lime!

    It will be odd and nice when we arrive to get some news of you. Oh I do hope you're all right and not too worried. I hope to heaven there will be some newish news of you, not months old. I can't get over the thought that you are still living the same life as when I left, when so much has happened to me. The thing I want to do now, is to come back, via the Mediterranean, as an officer's wife with Donald, in a troop ship, or fly!

    Poor old Lindsay and Rufus, I feel so sorry for them, Ken and John are on another ship next door to us, and going elsewhere. It is bad luck. A much nicer looking ship than ours too.

    Well I think I am going to try and write a few other letters. I do hope you will be able to plough through all this. At any rate, Daddy, I've enjoyed life so far, whatever happens!

   With lots and lots of love, I'm still thinking about you all.

 

P.S. Unfortunately I can't send you a cheque at the moment, because brilliantly they managed to leave all our papers behind in Durban, including Donald's letters. I'm quite shattered. I couldn’t bear to lose them. I think they'll arrive in time though. So I have no letters of any sort or papers or books with me. Not ?? ?? ?? much. Mine are in wooden cases. There is one hell of a row going on about it.

P.P.S. Lindsay suggests

a) I send this tied up as a parcel!

b) newspaper rate!

I think its quite the longest letter I ever wrote.

 

I am tickled to death, one of the other ATS officers, quite a nice little thing, asked me if I liked the heat because I always looked so much cooler than anyone else! Still I do try to look cool. I hate sweating women.

 

The smallest Malay rabbit

Deplores this stupid habit

But mad dogs and Englishmen lie out in the noonday sun ...

i.e. troops (with apologies to Noel Coward)

 

P.P.P.S. I ate on an average in Durban 3 eggs a day. I've never been healthier or had a better complexion. Sometimes of course I ate more, usually one or 2 for breakfast, one or two for lunch and one or two for dinner!

  I can't say anything of the South Africans, only that those who weren't for us were against us. It wouldn’t get through the censor.

 


Egypt

Recd 29 April 43.

My darling Ma and Pa. Its all right, I'm here and Donald's here and everything is wonderful. Oh its marvellous. Must begin from the beginning .... We docked somewhere around 11.0 and were ashore by 12.0 and went to a transit camp for a couple of nights, under canvas. Promptly asked the adjutant, a Captain, if I could ring up Ismailia, I couldn’t as it was only a military line, but her did, and Donald wasn’t in, so he left a message. Oh I was so relieved, I thought he might have been posted. Donald came right over, its about 60, miles. He didn’t arrive till after 7.0. I was in a panic by then, thinking he wasn’t coming, but the car went seriously wrong in passing. He borrowed it. It was just heavenly seeing him again. Of course it was just the same, we might never have been parted. I thought I'd be shy, but I wasn’t. I then went and asked for a sleeping out pass, couldn’t get one. Not allowed in transit camps. The adjutant was an angel though, and the permanent ATS Sergeant here. They said nonsense, of course I must sleep out, they'd check me in, and say I was in bed and all the rest of it, and let me know in the morning if I was wanted to move off early. We had such a funny night. There were no beds to be had in Suez, so Donald slept at the YWCA, just by the camp and a v. nice place, run by a female who came out in the same ship as me. He had to sleep in a tent! The first time since he's been out here, so I slept there too. It was just wonderful. He's thrilled to bits because I'm so fat. I've put on no less than 2 inches round my chest, 1 inch round my waist 1 round hips, and an enormous spare tyre. I'm fatter all over. Donald's quite a lot thinner. I like his moustache. He looked so beautifully shaggy, in a battle dress top and shorts! Its wonderful and marvellous to think that within 8 hours of landing we've got together. He hopes to get a week's leave on Monday, and I'm going to try to do. I think I should be able to manage it all right. We are going to stay at the United Services Club in Ismailia. Its much nicer than being in Cairo all the while. Donald is going to cable home to you for me. I shall cable as soon as I know my permanent address. Oh I'm so happy. Everyone was v. sweet, and everyone got thoroughly emotional when Donald walked in. But its so silly, we might never have left each other. The transit camp isn't really, considering. At lunch, 1 hour after we arrived, we got letters! I was thrilled. Some from you both, all dated quite lately, the end of March, and then Donald brought me some more along. Daddy, it was so lovely, the way you addressed letters to Donald, and he said when he opened them, they all begin - Darling - so he knew they for me! I am so glad you went down to Cornwall. Mummy, I think you muttered something vaguely about Tregenne? Castle. You know your description of spring made me feel v. homesick. It sounds so lovely, and so different from this fantastically barren place. But of course you know just what Suez is like, having been there, or rather through it. The whole town looks as though it had been in an air raid. I shall have to write it all on a series of airgraphs. I can only get one of these a week, so don’t expect more than one a week! I shall try to borrow Donald's typewriter while we are on leave, and type out some letters to you. I do hope my writing won't be too bad. This is not answering your letters of anything I know, but I know you will be so relieved to think that within so short a time of landing Donald and I are together again. Its so wonderful. We leave here, I hope, for our final destination, tomorrow. I want to get settled in and find what's to do, and get some leave and really see Donald. Lot of love R.

 


My darling Mummy and Daddy,

      Went to see Desert Victory in Cairo last night. Have you seen it yet in England? I think it is really marvellous. It all seems so very much more real out here. The 8th Army and all the other things - RAF and Navy certainly deserves every scrap or praise and more that it gets. Of course nearly everyone one meets has been up in the desert for anything up to 3 years. What a life. Actually from an army ration point of view, we are in the desert, and the officers - not us of course (!) get hardship allowance. We are some 300 yds outside the ?? day I believe!

26:IV:43 Easter Monday.

    I hope you have had a Happy Easter. It feels so odd out here to think of you in England. I am writing on my balcony at present looking out over the desert, and some Egyptians have stuck some coloured umbrellas I the sand and seem to be having a picnic! I do hope these letter cards are coming through fairly regularly. You see I give or send them to Donald instead of having Mrs Player censor them. We are of course only allowed one week, but he bought a bundle of them! He came up on Wednesday lunch time and stayed till Friday a.m. It was heavenly. He has just been posted and has gone to a place about 20 miles from where he was before. Still the same distance from me. He was waiting for his posting to come through and so took a day off. Heavenly to have him for more than 12 hours, our longest time till then! He comes by air of course and returns the same way, so it is quite quick, and all he needs is to leave at tea time and go back at breakfast time next day! He is coming up on Sat. night this week. We had dinner at the Continental on Wed. and met some people Donald knew at Aboukir. Nice men and then went to a cabaret. Donald now has a theory that he likes dinner at 10 p.m.! He always did prefer it at 9.0, but he's got worse! I do too really in the heat. Like Bertie! We went to the Gezira Club on Thursday afternoon, a lovely place. You of course know it. Very funny, when signing the register, the man suddenly said was I an O.R.[12]? I gaped and said yes, and he said I couldn’t go in. Donald went scarlet with fury, and we stalked out, and suddenly there was a rush of people behind us apologising and saying they didn’t know I was Donald's wife! So in we went! We bathed and had tea there. We met one of Donald's greatest school friends[13], who went straight into the RAF. Now a wing co. with DFC and bar, and another Wing Co. DSO, DFC. We felt exalted! We just went to bed early that night. Oh we did go and have drinks in a Sq. Leader and his wife who live in Heliopolis. I only had the afternoon off, and had to work in the a.m. One has two afternoons or one whole day off a week. I think it might be nice to see the Pyramids next Sunday. Donald hasn’t been yet. I am longing to go to all these places. But there's so little time. But I suppose there will be plenty!

    I had your cable about three days ago, thank you. I am distressed about B's birthday. We arrived just before it, and Donald said he'd cable for me, as I couldn’t and then forgot. I have also had a letter card ma from you of April 4. So glad to get it. I long to get masses of mail. Up to date I have had from you, the airgraph 3:IV, 16:III, two letter-cards Feb 16 March 10. From you Daddy, airgraph, 11 March (thank you incidentally for magnifying glass and paper when they arrive!) Letter cards March 30 and 20. A letter card from Nanny and the Maitlands and 2 airgraphs from Bunch. An airmail Daddy written on your ??? 6 Feb. Am so glad to hear you are being god-father to Joan White's child Daddy! What a collection of godchildren we have. I think about you so much, and can imagine everything you are doing. So glad the spring was nice. I do hope you're not worrying, I'm all right. But miss you and home. Mummy, I do hope you're all right. Love to you all and to Nanny, I sent her an airgraph 2 days ago. R.

 


      

No 4                                           Cpl Maitland ATS

                                               5.I.S.

                   3:V:'43                     C/o M.I.8, MEF

 

My Darling Ma & Pa,

    I have changed my address as you will see! But its all right not my location or anything. Don’t worry, stuff addressed to the previous one will still get here. Donald has also moved some 20 miles to a place called <censored>[14]. Get out the Encyclopaedia Britannica atlas and look up a map of the canal zone! It’s a pretty lousy place, and he has to live in a tent. He assures me he will be quite comfortable he is organising furniture for it, and gets an extra 2/- a day! This money is quite worth it! I wouldn’t think so. Incidentally, the pumping machine has got bust or something, and so he hadn't been able to have more than a lick and promise type of wash for a week! He is going to lend me his typewriter, so very soon you won't be burdened any longer with my appalling writing. He came over on Saturday in a staff car! His C.O. come up to him on Friday and said would he like to go to Heli on Sat. as he was going. The C.O. knowing I am here! Donald went back on Sunday afternoon then managed to get a lift in an American transport plane near to where he wanted to go. One can get an infinite variety of transport in this place. He brought with him masses of mail for me. It was lovely. Nothing from you unfortunately Ma. An airmail letter of 27 Feb and an ordinary one of 26 Jan, a letter card 15 April, from you Daddy and one from Peggy, and one from his mother to him of April 18th! They had been forwarded from where he was before. I was most interested to hear you were at the Edward in Durban, we were at the Louis. About 250 yards to the right, still on the Marine Parade. We went to the Edward for dinner a few times, when we were better off. I guessed you stayed there. One was written on your wedding anniversary. I thought of you then, two days after we landed here. Glad to here FRF10[15] is going strong. You had just been up to Wales for the H.G. I am rather pleased to hear that you have got another ATA female, I do hope she is nice. It will be less lonely for you being all by yourself when Daddy is away or out. I am simply appalled to hear that you have had this form of pneumonia twice. I'd no idea. I thought it was bronchitis. Do try to be careful and eat. I was very pleased to see in the paper the milk ration has gone up to 4 pints per head per week. The diseases one can collect in this climate rather appal me. Donald is getting a weeks leave on May 21. He hasn’t had any since September. Only one week in nearly 18 months! I think I will be able to fix it. We are going to Alex. May is the hottest month here. Its very hot now. But nothing like as bad as coming up the East coast. At least it’s dry heat. Went into Cairo this pm to try on some khaki drill I am having made. I saw some of the scent Bunch likes in a window. So I rushed in madly thinking I must send it to her. I know in England that sized bottle is 31 guineas. I nearly fainted. It was £16! So I fear she won't get any! Please tell her I tried! Everything is like that out here though. I am going into the Muski (spelling: anyway the bazaar) to buy some linen to have made into a suit on Sunday as it is £1 a yard in the shops. I sent you off a parcel this week. Afraid I can't send sugar, except icing as its rationed. I ought to be able to come by some through the NAAFI. I shall try. Was pleased to have a cable from you this week to say the first parcel has arrived. I sent you 2 food parcels, one in Feb, one in March B. one in Feb, also Carol Ann's clothes, and another of oddments of nail varnish etc. Hope to heaven you are not having a lousy summer after the heavenly spring. Oodles of love R.

 

PS parcel of magazines. Thank you v. much.


No 8

Last one 3:V:'43

7:V:'43

 

My Darling Ma and Pa,

  Am so thrilled I have just got a week's leave, beginning a fortnight tomorrow, May 22. Donald and I going to Alex for the week. I think we are staying at the Windsor Hotel. Won't it be terrific. Have been longing for this for so long. Donald hasn’t had any leave since last Sept and then only one week since he's been out here. Had an airgraph from you yesterday Daddy and one from Joy, dated Arpril 22, No 9. Incidentally letter cards are the quickest. Your writing is amazingly easy to read. Its all right. Donald and I have discussed the question of me distracting him from his work, and he promised he wouldn’t allow me to. He just has a day off a week, the whole place closes down, and he comes over to see me on that day, and doesn’t miss anything. He's amazingly hard working compared with all the GHQ staff out here who appear to do nothing practically. Work from 8.30 - 1 and 5.30 til 8.0 or earlier. He works all day until 8.0 or thereabouts. Mummy I am feeling rather worried, I seem to be getting Daddy's letters very well but not yours. I think this is because his have nearly all gone c/o Donald. It has helped. My letters have come through much better than anyone else's. Bertie had just been plucked. Sorry to hear he's so fat! Must tell you this, yesterday I walked out of the place where I work straight into a herd of goats led by two donkeys and some dogs and preceded by a woman. She pushed them into a field. I then got a shock, because of course the field was not grass but sand, just a bit of desert wired off. I was very shaken. Am looking forward to going up to Alex right  through the delta. Am not doing anything in the way of sight seeing at the minute as its terribly hot and all flies. The flies are terrible. I must say England's going up and up in my estimation! And the Manor Ho garden. Do write to me lots. I long for letters. At the minute I am mildly worried by your letters Ma but I think they will turn up, as most people have hardly had any yet from the APO address. They all come through in time, and also I so want to know where Peter is. Haven't had anything from Bunch dated later than the end of March. Yes Daddy I should love anything in the literature line. Books here are difficult to get and v. expensive and there are no libraries. Re Cash. Daddy, I am quite OK now as I have the £100 credit, But have you not had my letter telling you that I had to get £10 from the Henwoods in Durban? I am afraid therefore owe you £10. Oh of course I had to send it ordinary mail as it was written on ship. I knew when we were sailing and therefore got some money so that O would have some when we landed. I was glad I did as we were in port[16] for a couple of days, and it was a week before I could get to the bank. Donald is not going to give me an allowance. I said I would prefer not, then he can pay everything when he comes down for the weekend and all that sort of thing, also save, and also an occasional garment or two for me. He is coming down tomorrow for the weekend, or rather night. I am having the day off on Sunday too. The first time I have been able to have the whole day with him. I think we will go to the Gezira club and bathe and have lunch. Its pleasant there. How is Nanny? Will give him this tomorrow to sign. Oodles of love. R.


Last one 7:V:'43

17:V:'43

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

   I am afraid I haven't written to you for about a week, as immediately after I wrote to you I was whisked into hospital. I didn’t think much of this to say the least of it and guessed you wouldn’t either, so forsook letter writing completely. Its all right, nothing whatsoever really wrong with me, merely laryngitis or tonsillitis don’t know which. I'd got over tit nearly by the time I got here. I am hoping to clear out today or tomorrow. They keep you ages with nothing wrong with you. I was taken to hospital as we have had several cases of diphtheria, and anyone with anything wrong is immediately isolated. Donald was with his M.O.[17] fortunately at the time he got my phone message to say I was in hospital with suspected Diphtheria. The M.O. told him it was pretty nearly impossible for me to get it as I have been injected. No one I know very well has it. Don’t worry, I won't get it. Thank goodness I was injected. Apparently everyone for the first month or two gets something, and then gets acclimatised. I was of course in a flat spin with a weeks leave coming off this Saturday. After waiting all these years, well 16 months!, to spend a week with Donald, to lose it at the last minute. Mrs Player came in to see me, and said the officers were all worried too for some reason! Donald dashed over the next day to see me for an hour, came in a Halifax[18] and went back in a DC3 (American transport plane!). It cheered me up no end. I am in the military families Hospital in Abbassis[19]. In a lovely room with 5 other females. 3 ATS, one South African and one English girl - a Sgts wife. I am very fortunately with another girl I like very much, Betty Haworth. Her father was in the Indian Political. She had sand fly fever. We are both up and about now, and wander round Abbassis. I feel terrible being in here. I've done no work practically since we arrived and they keep me here with nothing wrong with me. The sisters are very nice and kind though. Last week-end when Donald came over, I was so pleased he brought me some letters from you, a letter card Mummy dated about April 12. Took rather a long time. You had just had lots of airgraphs from Durban. I do hope you will be getting these fairly well now. They are delayed I know with Donald doing the censoring. Having to be forwarded to him. Then I wrote you a long sea mail letter - 20 pages of air mail paper on the last ship coming up. You should get that in a month or 6 weeks. Letter cards are much the best and nicest way of writing. But airgraphs always get there if you want to send anything special. They are reprinted if sunk or shot down. I didn’t buy a suitcase in Durban. Donald bought me a very large zip bag when we got here - camel hide. Very useful and nice. Fancy Sheelagh Jenks coming home after all. Do give her my love. They will be almost grown up - the children I mean - I do hope you have been and stayed with the Maitlands, they would be so pleased. They really have been very sweet to me I think. They write to me a lot to me too. Naturally all the onus of letter writing has now descended on me. Donald! Delighted! SO glad you like the ATA[20] girl. It must be more cheerful having her. I do hope that Bunch and/or Peter are somewhere around. I do hate to think of you both at home with both of us miles away. You’ve no idea how Donald and I long to come home! Everyone here does. Everyone hates this place. Try and keep well Ma. I am just longing for leave in Alex at this minute. It will be heaven. Must get up now. We are woken at 6.0!! Horrors. But Donald begins work at 5.0 and finishes about 5.0, Isn't it awful. Oodles of love

 


Donald is censoring all my letters. So they will be a few days late.

No 7  (No 8 since arriving)

 

17:V:'43

 

My Darling Ma and Pa,

Wasn’t it lovely, Donald had to come up here on a job yesterday, or rather he came last night, and did the job this a.m. and has now gone back again. We stayed in Heliopolis Home Hotel which is really quite nice, and near for what he had to do. It is just wonderful to think he can pop over like this. He had to see his boss who works here! He arrived  at 6.0 or so and collected me from where I work to tell me he had come, we had dinner and went to a dance which this unit was holding along with others. I enjoyed showing him off no end. I can ring him up too!! He hopes to be able to come over to see me on my day off next Wednesday. Just think, he often has to come over here to do some work, well I mean fairly often. He bought me 11 yards of the most beautiful drill to have made up into skirts and things. Joy, we are to wear bush tunics, ie long sleeved things, with big pockets, no shirt, open neck things - South African pattern, and discard those vile tunics. We get and issue of 3 each.

  I hope you get the cables. I asked Donald to send you all right. He sent one to the Maitlands too he says. I sent you one yesterday from Cairo. They are rather awkward to send as you have to go into Cairo to do it, and by the way I am stationed exactly where I was told I should be wayback last June!

  We arrived here the day before yesterday. Having had to get up at 4.30 a.m.!! I was quite dead. However we were well fed when we arrived and went to bed after lunch. That was Thursday 15. Today is Sat. Then yesterday we started work. I am eventually going to be able to do exactly what I did in England. I am so pleased. This place I think will be more interesting than England, as we know all here, instead of only half as we did then! I do like to know everything. We work 8.30 - 1.0 with 10.30-11.0 off, and 5.45 till 8.0. Get a day off a week, or rather two half days. I am hoping to be able to get compassionate leave in a week or two, when our C.O comes back. But I can't till then. I am sure they will give it me, everyone here is pretty pro husbands! We are hoping to go to Alex for a week or 10 days. We have been told in so many words 1) not to know too much, 2) not to work to hard in case the men think they are superfluous! I must say I agree with Donald about this country. He always refers to it as this b- country! (apologies). But really we are in a block of new flats, all stone, in the best quarter, and the officers have a house, new, both unfurnished, and even so, 2 officers and 3 o.r.'s had lousy beds the first night!! This I think is the end. We have bought relays of Keetings powder. I now view everything with suspicion. Mrs Player is coping magnificently. But really they're insects everywhere. Though this room at the moment looks spotless, I view it with suspicion! Sorry about the above, but we are all shattered! However don’t worry, with creosote and Keatings, I trust I shall not be plagued. Jean and I have a v. nice room, with a balcony. We are right on the edge of the desert, and work only 5 minutes away. We are v. lucky. We are about the only people who are living in buildings. The WAAF officers all live in tents! So do all the men!

    I am missing you a hell of a lot. I feel lost and lonely in this country really. You’ve no idea how far away home seems. Its awful, I do mean this. I just don’t know how all these people manage, they haven't Donald, and he's being terrific, he's thought of absolutely everything. But we shall both long to come again I do assure you! Do take care of yourselves. I'll be all right, as long as I can keep insects away.

  I am tickled to death, I have found some baby wool. Will send, 1 lb at a time, lessens the risk. Its terribly expensive here, I shall be broke in no time at all. Everything is at least 50% more than England now. All love R

 


No 7 Last one 17:V:'43

 

20:V:'43

Mt Darlings,

Am being very naughty and writing to you when I should be working, but I really am so thrilled. I had 5 letters yesterday and 3 today from you, and I'm going on 9 days leave tomorrow! You’ve no idea - or rather I think you have - what a terrific thrill it is getting letters. I'm wildly excited. I had 3 airgraphs from Bunch and one from you Ma of 5 May yesterday and a letter from Joy, and today, a letter card of 26 April from you Mummy and one from Nanny of April 24. Am so very, very pleased to hear that you are really looking better. I have been awfully worried about you. I love hearing all about Carol Ann. She is wonderful. I can just imagine her cooing all the way down from Scotland! She is a wonderful baby. I am simply longing to see her again. Am relieved to here all the parcels I sent from Durban have arrived safely. I should have been disappointed of they had been sunk. I always wanted Carol Ann to have one of those camel hair bags. You and Daddy are running true to type as the adoring grandparents ??? Yes I certainly did think of you on Easter Sunday. I went to Church here in the middle of the buildings with Lindsay. You’ve no idea how much I miss you too and long to come home. But I must say, I really think it has made a lot of difference to Donald an me coming out. Its pathetic the way all the men here, who've been away anything from 3 months to 5 years long for their families. From the highest red tabs to the lowest Tommies. I am just living for this leave we are having tomorrow. Donald is leaving after work tomorrow. We are staying the night in Heliopolis and going to Alex on Saturday morning till the following Sunday. We are going to sail and bathe all day and talk to our hearts content. Just have a nice quiet time. Tonight I am in a quiz team - a vague brains trust. Corporals v. officers (army and ATS). I am always being to something like this. This station is eternally organising entertainments! I like quiz things. I have been in one other, and also a debate. Next thing on my list is a poetry reading! Quite public spirited for once in my life! Just had a very fat tea at the home made cake shop in <censor>. I feed a lot there. Lovely fresh cakes and delicious tea. I had 3 strawberry tarts and one banana one! For the sum of 1/6. (Plus tea I mean). It’s a lovely little place. I have tea nearly every day with someone or other of the ATS. You see we don’t work between lunch and 5 or 5.30. So pleased to hear Bill Jenks family have landed safely at last. How very unfortunate about Dr McGeoch. I don’t seem to have heard form you Daddy for a week or two. Its funny the way the letters come in batches. First of all I had all letters from you and none from Mummy, now the reverse. Donald may of course may bring me some tomorrow. Very relieved to hear about Peter. I have been worried ever since I left what would happen to him after the school closed in Scotland. Bunch must be pleased. Well I must do some work. With lots and lots of love and thanks you for all letters. R.

 

 


31:V:43
Darling Mummy and Daddy, I am typing this during break one day in the office. I have managed to borrow it for half an hour; it is a very rum old machine, French, and has all punctuation in different places, so you will have to excuse it a bit. Came back from the most heavenly eight days leave in Alex yesterday, so am feeling very flat and dreary now. It seems such ages before Donald and I will be able to spend more than one day together, six months or so, its dreadful. Still we did have a wonderful time. I have been dreadful and haven't written to you or anyone, else or done anything for over a week. We always going to, but somehow it never quite worked. Donald came over here on the Friday night, and we stayed at Heliopolis House till Saturday and then caught the 12-0 train to Alex. We had a v. good journey, and went Pullman! We sat near a couple of Naval officers, and of course finally had a drink with them. and discovered that they were very nice and spent a good part of our leave with them. They were in Alex temporarily; We stayed at the best hotel in Alex. right on the bay. We had a balcony over the bay; We were in a bit of a panic when we went.  as Donald had written about three weeks before for rooms and the letter had got lost in the post, it is beyond all dreams unreliable and slow in this country; But Alex was fairly empty as it is out "of bounds to nearly everyone at present. so we had no trouble, and drove straight to the Cecil; I love Alex. it is so much nicer, very few Wogs, flies and other insects; We did nothing at all during the week except laze around; It was just perfect; We went over to Abu Qir four times and took out the Chickadee. The boat Donald used to own; It is a 16 foot affair, very nice and quite speedy; We raced all over the bay. and went out to various islands to bathe; So lovely; We both got incredibly brown. I never knew I could go such a colour. I am miles browner than I ever was coming out; I suppose that it is the wind. It is windy there. I have never sailed out in the open sea and bays before. My goodness I got quite frightened tearing up and down the waves and getting so wet! I must say Donald is rather good. On one momentous occasion the second time we went out, he was jibing (jibbing) talking to me at the same time, and over we went and got tipped in the drink. It was remarkably funny. I never knew it was so easy to overturn. or so little trouble when one did. We lost nothing but a bit of the floor board and my bathing cap; Fortunately I had only a cotton frock on and so was quite dry again in an hour; We were close in to shore. Another day one  of the naval lieuts took us  out in a dingy in Alex harbour; It was quite rough and gusty, and in the harbour you just never knew where the wind is coming from next. and it was a minute boat; We even shipped water to windward. It was most interesting we sailed all round ad looked at all the naval and merchantmen in dock or anchored:

We really did have a wonderful time though; It all seems like a dream now that I am back at work again; Don't know whenever we shall afford to go on leave again either; We were not a bit extravagant either, but the trouble is that you just have to stay in the best hotels or else they are lousy, and one could pick up anything; Donald had been saving up for months though. It was so lovely not being an ATS for a whole week. Of course now I have come back, I have discovered that an order has come out to say that ATS may wear civilian clothes on a week's leave. Previously we were never allowed to, whatever rank, of course nurses, WAAF and WRNS could. Naturally I do too. But now I shall when Donald comes up for the night here. I really look so silly in uniform. Still Donald says that I manage to look more unmilitary than anyone he has ever seen, I mean without being untidy. I can't believe that Alex ever happened, it is like a wonderful dream. We as usual met masses of people we knew. One man who was at Trinity, a friend of Peter's, a female in ENSA I knew on the boat, and lots of men Donald has known out here. Donald took a few photographs of me, if they should come out all right, I will send you them. The food was not inspiring compared with pre-war England. But I must say, I almost enjoyed the tea we had on one naval ship more than anything, real butter, and white bread! The bread here is very rum, almost unleavened, and the butter issued to the army and troops, inedible. I usually buy a pound, quite nice stuff, rather like cream cheese. The navy always does itself proud. After we had been very wet sailing, they gave us tots of rum to warm us. I can't even bear the smell of rum, but I think naval rum must be different, this tasted mush nicer, I was sorry I refused some, and just tasted Donald's! Did I tell you how cheered I was when I got back to find masses of letters from you all, up to May 20. Shall answer then in my next! Oodles of love,


                                                  176595   CPL MAITLAND

                         6:VI:'43.                5.I.S.  

        No 9                                      M.I.8.      

                                                  M.E.F.

 

Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      When I came in this morning I found some magazines Ideal Home and Woman's Journal. Thank you v. much. It is lovely to have them. Could you send me Punch do you. think, as I don't see that at all. There don't seem to be any libraries in this country  which is very annoying; I still haven't got all your letters with me to answer which is annoying. The point is that sometimes at work I can come by a typewriter for half an hour. and knowing the trouble you have in reading my letters. I always seize it; This is the French one to-day, hence the peculiar punctuation. I have been typing some reports I do all the morning. and so am rather key dazy. They are a hell of a job. As everyone does their stuff like that very amateurishly on typewriters  there is always a queue waiting for them. I had an airgraph from you the day before yesterday Mummy of 24. I think they are, getting much quicker, it does make such a difference. How awful for Betty James having jaundice. I do hope the child hasn't got it too. I will write to her and Joan Tabrum. Nice name Timothy.
     You'd hardly believe what I did yesterday. I SOLD FLAGS!  In Cairo, in one cinema and in Groppis. an enormous and very famous tea shop; It was for the British War Fund. One civilian girl of some nationality, any kind and one uniform mail of female to a tray. I was with quite a pleasant girl. half English half French, she certainly could sell flags, we only had a couple of hours, but we made a small fortune. Of course we got very nearly all the money from the troops themselves, we had a whole large box stuffed with  money, and one of my large side pockets stuffed with notes which we couldn't get in. This not quite so wealthy as it sounds, as you know all coinage over the value of a shilling here is in note form! Then we went to Gezira and had some refreshments and saw a variety show. given mostly by the E.N.S.A. people who were on the boat with us. So we slipped round the back of the tents and talked to them. (It was out of doors as usual). Then we were brought home in a bus about 12-15. I really rather enjoyed it, About four of us volunteered to do it. The only draw back is. of course that all troops expect a date in return for buying a flag! I don't ever go out with anyone though unless they  should happen to be friends of Donald's or something. It is too complicated, and anyway I would be bored to death!   P.S. troops includes all ranks! Even worse! One lovely thing one of the naval Lieuts we met on leave said was: how nice it was to see an English married couple, and how lovely and clean my hair looked! You know these Wogs and Greeks and things never seem to wash theirs at all! One does get told the oddest things.  I think I shall have the afternoon off to-day. I haven't had either of my two this week, I want to wash and iron some undies. I never send my nice ones to the dhobi, though my private one did wash my old hankies white this week to my extreme surprise. It is trying as we hardly have any hot water. Donald will be coming over next Sat. which will be lovely. It seems so long since we were on leave. We have decided to go to Luxor for our next, and take some interest in the archaeological remains! It will be cool enough I think by then.  It is so hot now here you can't really go out. I just wilt. You've no idea how lovely your letters sounded all about the lilies and the lilac. Why are the lilies bad this year? Is it lack of manure?  I do hope they will recover. Are Bunch and Carol Ann still at home? You must love having them. I do hope it is still good weather and then the child can be played with outside. When does she start talking? I am so ignorant about ages I am afraid. Everyone seems to have babies now. Donald was rather worried when I rang him up on Wednesday as he hadn't heard from his family for ages. I hope they are all right; I shall ring him again to-morrow night. Not to-night as the nice little man in the post office, where I have to go for trunks has the day off on Sunday, he told me proudly he was a Christian, and then it takes an hour or so to get through, and he some how usually gets Donald for me in about 10 minutes. Donald hates the place where he is as he hasn't nearly enough to do. Maddening for him. You know do you he works from 6-30 till 2-0 with an hour off for breakfast. He seems to like it, I don't think he ever starts till about six though. Well I must stop typing now.

   You will I trust get another letter card as me some time, a continuation of this. Lots of Love R


No 10  7:VI:'43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

   Isn't it a dreadful thought, in less than a week I shall be 24. Its so old. I think I shall buy myself a chest of drawers from you as at the moment I have nowhere to put my things at all. We are having shelves made to hang our things under and I shall get some stuff to make curtains. Donald has got me an aquamarine ring. A lovely pale blue aquamarine. I don’t know quite how he is having it set. He's bringing it over next week. By the way this letter is in answer to all yours which I found waiting for me when I got home. (Oh must tell you this while I think of it, its perfectly true. German prisoner being interviewed, Englishman asked "What do you think of the Italians?" The German replied "and what do you think of the Americans?" This probably isn't so funny at home as out here). What a marvellous parade you must have had with the H.G. Daddy, fancy getting the entire battalion at once. So glad it was so successful. I do hear the news periodically, though its at awkward times. But I also see various things telling me what's happening - and have a newspaper when I can get one. Yes, now we are allowed to wear ordinary clothes on over 48 hours leave. I shall wear hem when away for the night with Donald. He is not enamoured with me in uniform, particularly the hats. Just had a letter card Mummy and an airgraph of 24:V. They arrived on 5 and 6:VI. Pretty good. You are marvellous the way you write, you’ve no idea how I long and look for the post. You were telling me about having Carol Ann to yourselves. Glad you like being grandparents! Hope you will get down to the Maitlands sometime. How nice B's coat and skirt sound. I think I shall have to have mine out here for the winter, when we go to Luxor. Daddy, how lovely you having a Jaeger coat! I should like Donald to have one. So glad to hear you got the other parcel from Durban. Hope all the plums on the plum tree will all materialise. Fancy having to make them into jam! Still I love Victoria plum jam! Some beautiful red (carno red) tress are coming out. They have succeeded some bright sky blue ones, with bell shaped flowers. Very lovely. The red ones have enormous clusters of nasturtium like flowers. All over everywhere there is puce, scarlet and vivid red bouganvillia and morning glories and plubago. Well I must stop burbling and go to bed. Have washed and ironed again madly all afternoon. Its very awkward, there's only a drain of hot water after here?? I use Lux and it isn't so bad. Lots of love. R.


 

176595 Cpl Maitland ATS                  5.I.S

                                         M.I.8.

              16:Vl:'43.   No 11.        M.E.F.

Darling Mummy and Daddy

     Two days after my birthday, my goodness I feel old. Its awful. There isn't that nice, with great dexterity and trouble I have put a new ribbon on this as the other one was very tired. Needless to say I came by this by foul means as they are unprocurable in this country.

      Wasn't it lovely Daddy, I had a cable from you actually on my birthday, and a letter from you Mummy, posted on June 7! I had your birthday letter, on I think last Thursday.   Thank you very much it was a very sweet one. It certainly did seem off, and not a bit really like my birthday. Of course as for all that money you have sent me, it really is just too generous of you. I just can't get over it. I don't quite know how to put it. I have decided to save at least £15 for the next time we go on leave, as we are hoping to fly up to Palestine,   Then I think I shall buy myself a really nice powder thing, you know I have always coveted one, and I have seen some lovely ones here. My old and treasured zip one is, alas no more. Do you remember giving it to me so many years ago in my stocking Mummy?   It was in that new white pigskin bag in the locker of the Chickadee when we got tipped in the drink, also my watch, and notecase and lipstick, fortunately nothing else, I ducked my head down as soon as  I could and undid the locker and pulled my bag out, and hauled my watch out. It was floating in the side pocket, and put it on the top of my head in a scarf, but the zip came right off the flapjack when it dried. I might be able to get it mended. My watch has never stopped!  I had the most exciting birthday week-end.

    I must start from the beginning. On Friday afternoon, as usual, I went down to Helio and had my hair washed and was sitting well pinned up, and absorbed in a book, in the Home Made Cakes, drinking the most delicious iced chocolate through a straw, and eating no less than three Strawberry tarts, when a voice said, Romie, here's your brother in law. I looked up in rather an abstracted way, and met the lower end of a pair of khaki shorts, and thought its Donald, how lovely, but my eyes went on travelling up so far, and over such and expanse of shirt that I came to the conclusion it couldn't be, and someone mildly observed that it was Otis!   He was rather taken aback, to see such a very plain sister in law!  He had arrived down late the night before from Aleppo for a conference, and phoned Donald and found exactly where to get hold of me and when. Needless to say I just sent to say I was not going in to work, Otis being the sort of person who would walk in and see the heed of the place, and say it was ridiculous if I didn't. He was staying at Shepherds, so we went there and had a drink while he put on his long pants, after 6-0! I was by this time in a vague coma, everyone from the generals and colonels and manager to the bell boys hailed him as a long lost chum.   Of course he has been out here for 17 year, most of the time now. Then we went on to the Continental Roof Garden and had dinner and danced. More chums rolled up. I reckoned of course I created a minor triumph my making a Maitland dance willingly more than twice in an evening. Donald is of course, awful, dances quite well, but won't.

    I just love Otis, how can one help it, when someone lives up to everything I have ever heard, both good and bad. He is incredible charming and such fun, and so enormous. Donald looks such a slim little thing. His job too is quite fantastic and awfully exciting. He seems to approve of me, which is very lucky, and told me how much Ma and Pa Maitland like me, and how very much good I have done for Donald, they say!  Next day he moved to Heliopolis House where Donald and I usually stay. He came and picked me up for lunch from my abode and we were just sitting thinking vaguely about lunch, when in walked Donald!  He was due here in the evening, in the regions of 8-0. But had just walked out on such an auspicious occasion. Otis has been out here over 5 years.  Oh it was fun. We spent the rest of the day just nattering away all over the town. We had a suit of rooms with a bathroom in the middle, which was nice. Of course, the hotel couldn't get over us.

 I don't think they really believe Donald and I can be married, but three people all in uniform with the same name floored them. They of course know us quite well by now. Next a.m. we rang up Stanley. I have told you about him haven't I? He used to be Donald's greatest friend at Charterhouse.   They shared studies and the like. He went to Cranwell when Donald went to Clare, into the R.A.P. He was in Malta for a year, and is now wing Co. Grant. (Lt. Col.) D.F.C. and bar, a fortnight older than me! I took a very dim view of him in England, as Ma Maitland was always cracking him up and saying why didn't Donald write. He is sweet too, and a bit like Donald to look at. He came over and had a drink before lunch.  (Oh obviously I shall have to start new letter card. I do hope that they will both arrive together. oodles of love till I get the new one started.)

   Then we went into Cairo and had lunch at the Continental, on the Manager. You know screened, table roses, lights and the best to eat and drink. Otis having stayed there 17 years ago! Then we went to see a great friend of Donald's who has crashed out here, and is in hospital near. Then in the evening we got involved in a most terrific party. Donald managed to stay two nights, as Stanley is a dear and always manages to work something and someone to fly him back at crucial times. It was all in aid of one Billy Drake. I must tell you all about it because it is so silly in the rank line, and I am sure you will appreciate it!  I was dressed unfortunately as a Cpl, except that it made it funnier. I had packed my frock as I thought that Donald was going, and so it all creased, (I have just had to squeeze an orange, this is all very hectic. Then there was Donald the next junior, and then Otis, the oldest, and a major, 34, and four Wing Co.s, and a very charming girl in the M.T.C., the only nice one I have met out here. The Wing Co.s  were all such babies Billy is 25. We nearly always meet him when Donald comes over along with Stanley, and is a D.S.O, bar, D.F.C. bar, and has just been awarded the American D.F.C.!  He looks like a fallen angel! It is very sad as he is now gone off t o the blue again. Hence the party. I am so sorry he is going he is a lamb. Well when We finally all got back from the Continental in a cloud of taxis, soon after 12, on the morning of my birthday, we were all saying goodnight and many happy returns and all the rest of it, when a Brigadier and a Commodore (navy Brig.) veered up, Otis, being Otis, of course, was a chum of the Brigadier's. His birthday was also June 14! So of course, when we decided to go to bed there wasn't a hope, we all had to have a birthday party. As they had just arrived from England by_air, they gave us some very nice late editions of the Times and the Evening News to read with out breakfast. PTO


176595    Cpl Maitland    ATS     5.I.S.

                                  M.I.8.

      No 12                       M.E.F.

17:VI:43

 

ALL APOLOGIES I HAVE STARTED THIS WRONG? SO WOULD YOU TURN OVER FIRST AND START ON THE OTHER SIDE,_________

     

The point of this very rambling and involved story is only to tell you how a Cpl celebrated her birthday with a Brigadier. But it was all such fun. I was desolated when Donald had to go early next (Monday 14) morning, and then I had a good lunch with Otis and he went off to Ismailia to see his eye specialist. And I went to work to make up for lost time and to get over another incipient attack of tonsillitis. I have coped successfully now though thank goodness. I think this climate is bad for throats. Shall take up painting mine nightly, I do wish I could tell you more of all the things. You would love to hear, but I can't for security reasons. Things like Otis' job etc. Most intriguing. Otis is going to try and do something about me and commissions if he can. He says he can, but I doubt it. Also Mummy I shall most certainly do something about. Len Wesson. He may after all be quite nice, or even very, like Stanley!

     To-day has been very nice, in great contrast to yesterday when I felt ill. Firstly I suppose because I feel better. Secondly I had the most wonderful parcel of magazines from you I have ever had. You've no idea how thrilling it is to receive things from home.  Absurdly late too. Punch of MAY 9th. or so. You'd hardly believe how much I appreciate you out here. The way you write etc. I think I get twice as many letters as anyone else, and nearly all from you two

    And B. I wish I could put all this sensible and thank you too without making it all sound drivel. And how much I miss you and home, to be thoroughly material, especially when I don't feel too good. Of course Otis and Donald's meeting in the lounge of Hel House was a master piece of understatement. Donald kissed me first and then said hello and shook Otis hand, and asked me some trivial question about something I had been doing during the week. To return to the magazines, I opened them in the office, and completely disturbed it. Two rather common little 2 pip officers got in my way on my desk from 11-0 till 1-0, reading, and I had a lovely time thinking, oh yes, Picture Post, Mummy and/or Daddy, Woman's Journal, Daddy/Mummy. Woman and Beauty, obviously Bunch, London Opinion, equally without doubt, relic of Peter! Oh yes, and I rang up Donald this p.m.. and am probably going over there for the night on Tuesday. Next week. There is a do . Sorry to hear after all this Peter has gone to South Wales, such a dreary place. But am very glad to hear that you will have the infant at home.   Feel yon couldn't bear to part with her now. My, how proud Otis is of his two sons. Oh I do wish I could see her.

  Donald has sent me over the typewriter, he is an angel, and a cupboard very large, with a dressing table top, on the R.A.F. So you will I feel like my letters a lot more.

     Must now go to bed. Lots and lots of love.

    

I had a cable from Miss Partridge. Wasn't that sweet of her.


           Cpl Maitland    ATS     5.I.S.

                                  M.I.8.

                                  M.E.F.

21:VI:43

        Darling  Mummy and Daddy,

        I am just dashing off a note to you as I am hitching down to spend the night with Donald where he lives tomorrow and then he can censor it. I am looking forward to it very much, I haven't been that way at all yet. Not that I have been anyway. I believe it is a very dull road all the same, just desert. Dear I shall be in a mess by the time I arrive after a 100 miles in a truck, open. Shall take tomorrow evening off and Wednesday a.m. for my day off this week. They have an E.N.S.A, show on in the mess and a party afterwards. I am looking forward to seeing where he actually is.

    I haven't had any mail from either of you for a few days, but I had a rather old letter card from Bunch this a.m.. Lovely all the same. There is no knowing how long things will take nowadays, Letter card from you Mummy on my birthday posted June 7, and B.'s which came to-day was dated May 25. From Lytham. I sent the Waddells a parcel of food, they have fed me a lot, from Durban, and I gather it had just arrived when they were there.

        Oh Daddy, I am so glad , when I spoke to Donald, earlier on this p.m. he said he had a book from you for me which looked v. interesting on the Gobi desert or something. I shall be quite qualified to speak on deserts soon! Thank you anyway in advance.

     Had an interesting evening last night. I was introduced to an American officer in the Field Ambulance, and he asked me out to dinner at Shepherds, so I duly, not wishing to miss a good dinner apart from anything else, went. A very nice man. They stand in very high repute here, the American Field Ambulance.   They are civilians who came over here, and signed on for a year at a time, voluntarily. They are NOT paid at all. And they have fought, and their ambulances have gone through mine field in front of the tanks etc, after the infantry. This man had been in the desert for a year from Alamein to Tunis, and is now on his way home. It is incredibly interesting to meet all these people, and to hear a11 about everything. It seems so much nearer here the war in Africa. Names like Alamein and Mareth aren't names any longer. There is so much I would love to tell you and can't, because of the news-paper policy etc. I just hope you will gather things from my letters.

      I am at long last accumulating a little furniture.  Donald sent me down a sort of dressing table cum cupboard thing. Very spacious.  Then yesterday at long last the A.T.S. put up some shelves under which they stuck a hook or two, and one can hang things. On wed. I shall go and buy yards of striped blue stuff, sort of cotton muslin and make the place look a bit better. We shall be quite comfortable in the end.  Jean sleeps on our balcony now on her mattress, but keeps on being bitten, so I don't think I will.  Actually I am building up an immunity, or rather, I cherish that illusion! Bugs don't like you if are burnt, and I am or rather was a dark honey colour a11 over, and my legs right up to bathing suit level still are, and it helps! The trouble is they live in the raw wood of our desk,, and things. It is just too priceless out here nowadays, they are not a disgusting subject as in England. It makes me laugh, you can discuss the subject with perfect propriety with anyone, and as I do, refuse to sit on certain types of chairs, wicker, as they are worse than others. It is incredible!  Life out here is so odd. I find it all very interesting. I an not very good at yelling at Wogs who try and sell me bootlaces, combs, wallets and polish my shoes when I am in a hurry.  Well I think I shall stop now and organise myself for bed, and try to get things arranged for to-morrow. It will be a bit of a rush.


Cpl Maitland, ATS,

5.I.S. M.I.8

MEF

No 14

25.6.43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

     Had great fun hitching down to see Donald for the night last Tuesday. Today is Friday. I left here about 1-0 and just caught a truck without any trouble, one of those 30 cwt. or whatever they are, with two flt lts driving, two more inside, and a lieut. who was going to within six miles of where Donald is. All very convenient. It took about 3 hours in all. Bit bumpy but not bad. I went all the way there on the Cairo Suez road, it is fantastically barren. You see nothing at all but miles of sand and sort of shingle. The road is quite good, and of course new since your day. A continuous stream of traffic. It is so odd, you just start off at 40 m.p.h. and go on at 40. It is just too easy to get there in time and keep up a high average. We stopped once on the way at the only place one can, where they charge two ackers[21] for a cup of tea. Ackers are the slang for piastres which one uses in this country. 21 d. each. Most of them over 5 ackers are bad, and one must only accept paper money. People are very kind to one hitch hiking  and that sort of thing. These men were so nice and found out exactly where I wanted to go, and didn’t leave me till I had got a truck to go the remaining six miles. It was fun seeing where Donald is too[22]. Miles out in the desert. They had an E.N.S.A. show on at night, and a party for the cast afterwards. It wasn’t very good, but the men enjoyed it enormously. The C.O. was very kind and asked us to stay at his house, and so we had a comfortable night. We were going to stay in the sick quarters as Donald is very friendly with the doctor and dentist. They are both charming. The latter[23] was at school with Donald and so knows Peter quite well too. Donald I think spends most of his time there after work. You see he finishes for the day at lunch time, 2-15 or whatever it is. The worst of the place is that there isn't a thing to do after you have finished work. You can I suppose take a smart walk across the desert, that’s all. I left next morning about 8-45,and came back via Ismailia, which wasn’t nearly so easy, but much more interesting. The road runs all the way along the banks of the Sweet Water Canal, and the land is irrigated and quite green. One sees water melons and things growing. If you fall into the Sweet Water Canal I believe you just plane die!! It is so filthy. I do like to get around and see the country side. I suppose I shall soon get over being interested in the natives and their vile habits and ways of living. How they survive at I don’t know. I saw one lovely fight at one of the wharves, just like children. Even the Italian prisoners who were working just behind me came and watched too. They, the latter are cheerful souls. They smile all the time. This was at one of the W.D. pick ups. They have them at suitable intervals and army and RAF trucks stop there to see where one wants to go. They have wonderful sort of be careful signs all along this road too. One notable one was, first and enormous board saying "If write yourself off..." Then about 200 yds further on "Can your parents replace you?" Very sound thought! Write off colloquially means kill, damage irretrievably, anything along those lines. Usually used by the RAF with reference to aeroplanes.

   That book on the Ghobi Desert was there Daddy. It looks very good and most interesting. Thank you Daddy. I have only read about two chapters so far. Also magazines. Lots of Country Life which pleased Donald. I never knew he liked it.

 No news from you for about a week, so any time I should be getting a letter or two. Hope so. Isn't the king wonderful the way he gets around! Fancy going to Malta.

   Sent you a cable this week to thank you for my lovely birthday present but unfortunately some three days after I had handed it in, they brought it back to me to say did I want to give it to a D.R. or something like that. Of course by then it was not worth sending. I was wild. Shall have to go into Cairo next time and send it myself. Had a letter from Merriall to say that one of her sisters is now in Lisbon and so she gets news through her from her family all right. I am so glad.

  Am going to buy some curtain material this afternoon to curtain off the shelves they have put up for us to hang our clothes under. (sorry for the grammar of that last sentence!) Think I shall have blue and white stripes or something like that.

   Donald has given me a lovely acquamarine ring for my birthday. Did I tell you? He got the stone ages ago, but they have taken rather a long time setting it. It is oblong. He is going to buy himself a watch at long last. His own packed up some months ago, and it is so inconvenient without one. He wants a Longines in, of all things, stainless steel. Watches out here are very good and comparatively cheap. I love the idea of stainless steel. Of course the sand is bad for them. Lots and Lots of love, R.

 


                                          Cpl Maitland A.T.S.  

                                          5.I.S.

                                          M.I.8.

                                          M.E.F.          

                          28:VI:'43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

            Thought I would write you an airmail letter for a change, just to see how long it takes to get to you. I have at the moment no letter cards, they are back in the billet. Just had a letter from you Daddy , no 14 of June 8. How lovely going to northern Ireland. I suppose by now you have probably been and gone. I hope you managed to fly. You are plucky. It must have/is/will be very interesting. When I heard from you, you had no idea when you were going.

   Funnily enough, you asked in your letter if we had been to the Musky yet. We spent yesterday morning there. It is the second time I have been, though the first time I didn't really look round at all. Quite a good guide insisted on picking us up yesterday morning, and to begin with was quite determined we should go to all the bazaars run to pilfer the troops and sell them a lot of awful curios they didn't want. However Donald was very firm, and we finally got what he wanted. He has for some time wanted to buy me one of the magnificent belts that the Egyptians wear round their stomachs over their garabiehs. They are simply beautiful things. Well with much difficulty we persuaded the man to take us to an ordinary stall where we looked at some, and bought the most lovely silver, pale blue and yellow one, exactly the colour of the aquamarine I have got. They sell silk by the weight. It is 5 p.t. (a shilling) a dram, and I think there are 5 drams a gram or something. It is so much more interesting though going to the real native stalls.   Then we had a most interesting time. We got miles off the beaten track, out of bounds I feel convinced, but I don't know. Right up against those hills at the back of Cairo, to the East, near Helio. They took us to show us where they weave these lovely belts, they are incidentally long scarves, about 4 ft. and 2 ft. wide, and you fold them. We saw a man there weaving the yellow stripes that the Egyptian army wear, N.C.O.s. Isn't it dreadful to think that that is the cheapest way they can think of making them. The Musky is an incredible place. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is so unbelievably filthy too. I just don't know how they survive. One of the old men doing the weaving had his grandson working with him, and he looked a good 40, I think the funniest thing of all was when the guide in desperation, as we wouldn't look at any souvenirs (for Europeans, particularly troops-only) of Egypt, took as to a leather shop where they sold pouffes and other atrocities, and the shop had the most beautiful door, some very heavy dark wood all studded, and Donald offered to buy it instead of the leather! They gave us up then. Still we had a very interesting morning. We even got involved with a native funeral on the way back. I am afraid Daddy, that we shan't do any real sight seeing till it has got a lot cooler. I was quite worn out after yesterday a.m. It is so hot walking in the heat. I am very much looking forward to going to the Citadel, but I refuse to go till I can appreciate it in comfort.  Oh it is so hot. We then had a long and leisurely lunch, and went to see the American I met, whom I think I told you about, in the American Field Ambulance, who had had taken me out to dinner and dance a few times, he has malaria, and is just going home. Donald wanted to meet him, as he is a lawyer by day in New York, with 2 degrees, and finds that running three dance bands, including one which plays at the Waldorf Astoria at night, in fact for one night, more profitable than a week's work as a lawyer. He was very funny about it. He said the army apologised and said he was in for a tough time driving an ambulance, right up in the front with the mine people, especially when he was working for 72 hours, and he put on 26 pounds in weight, such a rest cure!  Then we came back and had tea, and Donald left as usual. Gosh I do love it when Donald gets down, it makes all the difference. I even like Egypt.

    Betty Haworth, I don't know whether I have ever told you about her, I think I have, her father used to be consul or whatever it is in Iran. I see a lot of her. She was duty N.C.O. last night, which means that one has to cope vaguely with food in the evening, or rather just make tea. It is quite the most ill equipped kitchen it is possible to imagine. We had to boil the kettle on a primus. This took us some 3/4 hour! Reminded me vividly of picnics. The darned thing seized up or something. Of course by then we were the only people, left to drink it. Very few people are ever in for food in the evening.

   One of the Admin Corporals is being married this a.m. 12 o'clock. Then Marion is also being married this week too. Her fiancé has come back from Tunis. It is all very exciting. But I feel so old. I seem, though not in age, to be years older than all the people here, and so much more settled somehow. It is bad luck on them having to be married away from home, I am glad I wasn't. It would have been horrid. Re books Daddy, I think I have told you quite a lot about them in my last lots of letter cards. They were taking a long time to get through, but are now much quicker. I am at present reading the Gobi desert. It is very good. No there are unfortunately no libraries here, and books are very hard to get. They aren't being imported much now of course. I am thrilled to bits when I get a parcel from you, it is so exciting apart from the value of the contents. I collected lots of Punches and Woman's Journal from Donald this week when I went down to see him. Sorry Daddy I can't tell you where he is, I did once, but Donald himself cut it out of the letter. He is only 20 or so miles from here he was when I left England, that's the nearest indication I can give you.

    I don’t really know what else there is to tell you; this is a very nattery and discursive sort of letter I am afraid. But there never seems to be very much room on letter cards really. Lots of love, R.


 

Cpl Maitland

5.I.S. M.I.8

M.E.F.

No. (last one airmail)

July 1. (1943)

 

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,   There is absolutely nothing to say, because I wrote you an air mail letter at the beginning of the week, for a change, all about the week-end, I have at long last bought some curtain material to cover our shelves, so that my clothes won't get so dusty; (the long hanging ones) It is very pretty, blue cotton, with a large sprawly design of a beige sailing ship. We are eventually going to cover our caseboxes with a beige curtain; the large sort of cupboard thing Donald had sent up for me, it at the moment has a revolting serviceable red rep. It is a sort of box about 4 feet long, 3 wide, and 3 high with shelves, and a curtain over the front; he had it in his tent; timber is very difficult to get here and is v. expensive;

    Marion is getting married tomorrow in the Cathedral, and some people she knows are giving the reception in their flat afterwards in Gezira Island, (that I believe is synonymous as Gezira means Island).

    Had a cool night last night for the first time for weeks, I didn’t wake up exhausted with the heat; I never sleep with more than a sheet on either. Jean always sleeps on our balcony on her mattress, but I think it is too noisy in the morning.

    I had a wonderful amount of letters from you this week, two from you Mummy, one written on my birthday, and one from Devil's Bridge, on, I think the 19, and one from you Daddy, on 17, and on from Bunch on the same date. Oh dear I have just discovered I have started this on the the wrong side. So glad to hear that you have gone to Devil's Bridge Mummy, I am sure it will do you good; I do hope the weather is reasonable; what a lovely thought rushing about on green mountains, instead of shaking gritty sand out of my sandals; incidentally we have been issued with the shoddiest pair you can imagine, in brown paper leather; mine are nearly worn out; still they are a lot better than wearing heavy shoes in this heat. We always should wear ankle socks but I very rarely do. Mostly because , a, I don’t like them, I never did, b, the water is very rarely even tepid, and it is such a bother washing them about twice a day. At night, after sundown, we are likewise supposed to wear stockings, but I don’t. This is a non malarial area; Donald is in a highly malarial one, and get bitten all over, but never he says by mosquitoes. I think that is probably famous last words, but still. He sleeps outside without a net.

    It is frightfully funny the way with all these weddings going on, I am regarded as the oracle; it just reminded me someone has just said, in the usual way ... You should know ...

     How is Dick, has Mrs Hazel heard again, actually from him or not. Poor thing, it is dreary for her. Dash I wish I had you letters here to answer, I came in early this evening, to the office, so am typing this to you. Yes Mummy, I have written to Mrs Jones[24] this week, and Nanny last, and I will get off an airgraph to Beattie[25] any time now. It is so sweet of them all to write to me, I keep a careful diary of all the letters I get and send, so that I know what's to do. It is the only way I think to cope; Donald now I have come out here is getting bad about writing to everyone I note; He occasionally writes me a note, but since they take nearly as long to get from him as to England. Too silly, that is why some of your letters take longer than others I am afraid, there is no other way ,unfortunately.

    I am going to a party this evening with the Americans who live next door, three boys. They are really quite pleasant. Civilians; the nice one unfortunately goes to-morrow to America, or rather starts to go when

anyone leaves is shrouded in mystery.  Donald and I went to see him in hospital last Sunday, to have a quiet time after we had been In the Musky all the morning;  I went to sleep across the bottom of the bed while they discussed swing music; Oh dear I am sorry you must find It confusing to keep up with   all the people I talk about all the time; Sorry Daddy, we are leading our usual gregarious lives, when Donald comes at the weekends; but some of these people are very interesting,. I have met so many people I can_ hardly cope. I think probably Sunday was the funniest; we were coming back in the Metro, and an Englishman sitting opposite us, suddenly asked us how Donald's brother was. Apparently he had sat with us when we came back the Sunday Otis was with us, and we had been laughing because Otis was clutching a large bundle of clean laundry which he had had washed at Shepheards of all places!  I very rarely go anywhere unaccompanied by clean or dirty laundry; one uses so many shirts and skirts. Take it down to the dhobi laundry in the village. The A.T.S. laundry is no use, they lose your things, and anyway one doesn’t get it back for a week to ten days, and I simply haven't got enough clothes.

    Well I think that is the end of the card, and no more babble registers, at the minute. Lots and lots of love,

 


 

                Cpl Maitland ATS                   5.1.S.    

                                                   M.I.8.

           No 17                                   M.E.P.

                                  8.Vll.'43.

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy, an awful lot has happened since I last wrote to you I am shocked to say, a week ago tomorrow. I seem to have had a rather hectic time over everything. First of all Donald has been down twice. On Friday last about 7-0 the phone went in the office and Donald was in the guard room. A heavenly surprise, I was feeling lonely and bored too. He was on his way he said I mustn't say where yet, for a couple of days. No I am sorry this was Thursday, so it must be a week since I wrote to you. Well the plane he was going in didn't leave till Saturday morning, so we had the whole of Friday. Lovely. The Americans next door were having a party so we went there on the Thursday morning, and the next day Donald had to fix up about transport, and so on, and I worked, and then in the afternoon we went in to Cairo, and ran straight into one of the very nice naval lieuts we met in Alex, who was down for a few hours, and went and ate ice creams with him. then there was Marion's wedding in the cathedral. It was a very nice little wedding in one of the Lady Chapels, rather like Charterhouse chapel, her husband is sweet, Donald of course had seen him before, and we traced the connection down to him knowing Ernest Bennet at Cambridge, as this man read architecture at London when Ernie was doing it at Cambridge, London being evacuated there. I think you have met Ernest Hudson Bennett, the South-African. Donald had a lovely time as I thought he would, and enjoyed it thoroughly and appeared again on Monday evening about 7-0. He was covered in red sand (sand the texture of face powder) the colour of the Rock, Tettenhall[26] I mean! You should have seen him, the sand in these parts is pale yellow. He was beautifully sunburnt, and had been bathing, when not working. No doubt in the fullness of time I will be able to tell you where he went and why and what in. We spent the night in the Americans flat next door which was very sweet of them we couldn't get in to Hel. House. We had a nice lazy morning and didn't get up til 9-0, had breakfast and then Donald hitched back to his place, and I hitched into Cairo to do some shopping. It is conceivable that Donald may be going  off into the blue for a month or three weeks, I hope to heaven he doesn't. It would be horrid, it is all right not permanently or anything, just on a job. He doesn't think it very likely though.

         When in Cairo the other morning Mummy, I bought some linen lawn to have some handkerchiefs made for you, I have been meaning to this for ages, but have never been into Cairo when the shops have been open. It was quite a job to find it. Margot's nuns, she goes to a convent or something to mass, make the most lovely ones for 21 piastres. About 61d. I was going to have them done for your birthday, hut I have discovered that they have gone to Alex till Nov., but I think I can send them there to be done, but I am afraid that they will be a little late. I also bought myself an extremely pretty flapjack, which I have been longing for for ages, as part of my birthday present from you. I am saving 15£ for leave. I have also bought some curtains which I told you about, and am getting an electric ring so that we can have tea and hot stuff at night, and in the winter, I know I shall want a hottie[27].

      I had masses of letters from you this week too, on 5 your 16 Daddy of 22/6 and an airgraph form you Mummy of 21/6 on 2nd. The others I appear to have answered, thought I hadn't! It is marvellous you have got permission to go to Ireland Daddy, I do hope you will enjoy it. I am sure it will be very interesting. Longing to hear all about it. You are marvellous both of you the way you write to me. It make such a lot of difference. Yes Daddy it does make me jealous to think of you sitting in front of a fire. I would love to do it, though I would still rather be too hot than too cold. Except I have no energy at all except occasionally after about 8-0 p.m. Yes I am incredibly glad that Donald is so near, I would be unbelievably lonely otherwise. That is of course an understatement! It is pathetic to see how jealous everyone is of us. I mean the men longing for their homes and families. I don't know whether I told you, that when I went down to see Donald, he is mess secretary and as there was a party on, rather busy, so he and I and his great friend Norman, (Charterhouse) came out of the Ensa show, and mixed drinks, and coped, Donald dashed madly, so Norman looked after me, and said at the end of the evening, he hoped I hadn't been bored, and of course I had enjoyed myself thoroughly, couldn't understand  how I had as it is rather a dreary place he said he hadn't enjoyed an evening so much for years just being able to talk to me, (as an English girl I suppose). I was very touched. Must go down the village and have tea now and take my usual  enormous bundle of khaki laundry. My ordinary handkerchiefs are rapidly going that colour too, horrible. Lots and lots of love,  R.

 

 


 

                                                          176595

                                                   Cpl Maitland,           

                                                   A.T.S.                                                                             

                                                   5.I.S. M.I.8.

                                 12:V11:43.        M.E.F.       

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy, To-day is Monday and I last wrote to you on Thursday, and I am afraid that absolutely nothing has happened. But I thought you would like a letter all the same. I haven't heard from you since then at all, but hope to be getting a letter any time now. I have had some books though which is lovely. Erewhon and the book on Brittany. Thank you very much Daddy, I have meant to read Erewhon and never have. I thoroughly enjoyed the book about Brittany, I think it was reviewed in one of the Punch's you sent me. This morning I had my geographical journals and Archaeology and the Parish Magazine, for the first time I enjoyed looking at it! Of course I haven't really had time to look at anything else. I just opened one of the geography ones and the first thing that caught my eye was a picture of the last experiment I did in the Cambridge Part 11 lab. And the article was written by Professor Debenham! Actually it is published in book form, I mean our experiment and notes and of course lots  more by Professor Debenham. I must get it sometime, but I can't remember the title. I was thrilled to bits of course, and rushed all over the building showing everyone! I have learnt one other thing to-day, which also pleases me how to make Turkish coffee. It is so easy, much easier than French. I have got one of those little jugs you boil it in. I shall enjoy my little stove to the full. It is lovely to have something to drink whenever yow  want it, all I want to do in this country in drink, and I find that iced drinks do not agree with my throat, which is really maddening, so I mostly keep off them. I haven't done anything since I saw you, on Saturday I had a half day, the first I have bothered to take then Donald wasn't there, I didn’t find it very thrilling. I went into Cairo and saw Wake Island, about the American Marines and the Jap landing. I was so shaken though I came out before the end. Then I bought my little stove, and some ink for Donald and Norman and came home. Ink is at a premium in this country, the Wog ink is naturally unusable, and forms a fibrous growth on the nib let alone in the pen. And Quink, the only good kind they sell, is only to be had from the Parker shop in Cairo, at FOUR SHILLINGS a ninepenny bottle. Personally, I type or write in pencil or borrow someone else's! But if you do have to write in ink yon have to buy that or some American stuff at the same price, as the other is just well, it just doesn't!

    I have hung my curtains at long last, I shall lie in bed and look at my beige sailing boats and the blue sea with great pleasure to-night, and Jean is just making hers. We had a domestic evening to-night, and Jean sewed, I hung my curtains, and made coffee, lots of it, and ate my fruit ration for the day, half an oke of grapes, my rationing I mean, that's nearly a pound and a half, and costs about 6d or 8d. or so, I usually eat that much in 36 hours or so, aided by others. Sheelagh has a passion for water-melons, and so we sit and eat those two, and spit out the black Beetle type pips, (for your benefit Mummy!) The stone floor is usually covered with them. We have a nice little man who washes it most days. Sort of stone flags, and beautifully cool.

    How is food in England, you haven't said anything about it for ages, I do hope to heaven you're all right, and that things haven't got much worse since I left. It worries me. I can't bear to think of the Manor Ho being short, well I an going to stop babbling  now, have a  bath, cover all my bites of a11 shapes and sizes, prickly heat sweat rash, heat lumps and the like with camomile, and go to bed! I am rather tired, I was duty stooge last night, which meant waiting up till everyone is in, and when everyone is late, it is usually about 1-0 before one has finished, it only happens about once a fortnight though.


This was on a small photographically reproduced letter card.

 

Cpl Maitland, 5.I.S. M.I.8. M.E.F.    13:VII:'43

 

By Hand: In addition to the £70 here I have £15 in Donald's leave accounts

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy, I can't tell you what a flat spin I have been in all the morning. I had your letter this a.m. telling me I had this enormous overdraft at home, when I didn’t think I had been spending at the rate of my dress allowance. Having panicked all the morning wildly, I was walking home talking and thinking aloud to Sheelagh about it, when I realised. I will start from the beginning. You know I had the credit wired out here last November, or whenever it was I arranged it. Well when I got out there, I discovered that I did not really have an account out here as I imagined, I merely draw money cheques which are then sent back to the N.P.[28] I could not draw money anywhere else in Egypt, as I did not have a cheque book, but used special forms they gave me here. While on leave in Alex this was mildly inconvenient, but Donald could, so it didn’t matter. Then when I came back, the people I lent money to, paid it back, well I didn’t want a lot of money on me, so I tried to pay it into the bank. I couldn’t. It would have to be paid in, or rather go all the way back to England to be credited to my account. The bank manager, an Englishman, suggested I transferred my credit to an account here, and then I could draw cheques anywhere, on leave, if I should be posted and the like. I thought this a good idea, and did so, they gave me a receipt for the credit, and that was that. But of course in  my usual ignorance, I never thought, of course they have deducted all the money I had cabled out here, from my account at home in a lump sum, and not spread it out over a year as I had imagined myself spending it. I therefore have a credit here of nearly £70, seventy pounds. I do hope you see this, it is a very muddle way of putting it I am afraid. In other words, I have out here seven tenths of my years gross income, while so far only half has been paid to me at home. So therefore I have really a credit of just over £30, subtracting my overdraft at home from the  actual money, I have a receipt for it saying I have paid Barclays D.C.O. so much, which I have out here. So can you just leave my account as it is, and let my actual investments gradually pay off the overdraft. My god I have been a fool. I am sorry Daddy, it must have given you an awful shock. It gave me one I can tell you. I just can't think how I van have been so stupid as not to realise that to give myself such a lot of money, NOT credit, out here, I should have an enormous overdraft at home. I have rarely felt more idiotic. Donald will be angry with me! I shall be so relieved when we can settle down properly as he is so good about money. Could you possibly show this to Mr Lloyd Jones, or tell him. I am terribly sorry Daddy. Incidentally, I wrote to you yesterday and today had a letter from you and Mummy and two from Peggy.

 All love, Rosemary.

 


                                          Cpl Maitland A.T.S.  

                                          5.I.S.

                                          M.I.8.

                                          M.E.F.          

                          16:VII:'43

No 19.

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy, Sorry to be writing this, but I am lying in bed, I ????, recovering from an attack of Gippy Tummy. Everyone has it out here. I was the last to get it coming out on the ship and I should think about the last here, as my tummy is so good! I am so amused Daddy, I have just been reading one of my geographical journals, I saw a paragraph underlined in red, and blinked and read it. On the deleterious effects of alcohol in this ---- climate! Don’t worry, I don’t have anything at all from one time Donald comes down to another, and then more often than not fresh lime juice, its so delicious. I always remember you and ma coming back from either S. Africa or Yugoslavia and talking about John Collins. We drink them here occasionally, with all the limes about. I never dreamed there was so much difference between fresh and bottled lime juice. Donald finds drink out here very upsetting as there is practically no beer, and that’s rather horrid and 12 pt (2/6) a pint bottle!! In hotels. Other wise all alcoholic drinks are controlled in price. At the moment I am consumed with hunger don’t know what to do. The sovereign remedy for gippy tummy is starve yourself and drink 2 tablespoons castor oil. Quite horrible. Sheelagh is bringing me some eggs tonight and will scramble them on my little stove. Donald is coming down tomorrow for the night, I haven't seen him for a fortnight, so I must be better.

19:VII:'43 Sorry I never finished this. I have at long last got over my gippy tummy thank heavens, for I trust a few months!

   Donald came down on Saturday and carted me out, and fed me, even agreed to have his breakfast in bed at 9.30 on Sunday (Which he hates, like you Daddy!) We had lunch on Sunday at the new R.A.F. officers club they have opened here. So nice. A beautiful garden. Mummy I have had a letter from you since I wrote, thank you of 4:VII. Silk out here is 30 - 35/- a yard! No comments needed. I am going into Cairo tomorrow and will have a look for pearl buttons. Sheelagh, Jean, Madeleine and I are having a half day, and will shop have dinner and go to a flic I expect. Very pleasant. Wasn’t it funny the last letter I wrote you I asked about food, and the next day had one telling me about it. English food, even rationed, i.e. Manor Ho. Food sounds too perfect. The food here is terribly mediocre. Much much too much fat. The army fries everything. I hate fried things too on the whole. For breakfast porridge (T. outside 90°F!) scrambled eggs or rather bad bacon, fish in batter etc marmalade and bread and butter - the  best meal of the day. Lunch. Meat, stewed - very fat and heavy, cake gone solid type. Sometimes water melon coffee. The rest of the food we have to buy ourselves. The army only supplies two meals a day. Its done by subtracting from pay. Tea - e.g. bully beef and quite nice salad. (bully beef at 4.0 in the tropics!) Dinner, cheese and bread. Not bad food at all but one wants it of course at 8.0 a.m. and 9 p.m. and tea and lemonade between. Nothing else (sorry the ATS never was my strong point!) So glad to hear the fruit's so good. I just love all the water melons and grapes at the minute.

   Thank you Daddy too, I had your letter of 2 July No 17. At the same time as Mummy's about Ireland. I hope you have got the airgraph I dashed you off madly about it. They are certain to get through anyway. How lovely Ireland sounds. It must have been a pleasant change for you. I thought you were going for a week. Couldn’t you afford the time. Do I know Col. Gibbons? I am afraid I am not keeping a diary. Its not worth it at present, as we do much the same thing all day and every day. But I did coming out. Donald has it now. These letters are more or less one. I keep a v. short record of dates that’s all i.e went to see Donald. R.


 

 

  No.20.                                         Cpl Maitland, 5.I.S.

                                                 M.I.8.

                    25:VII:'43                   M.E.F.

    Darling Mummy and Daddy, I have a half day to-day, and am spending it doing nothing. I slept all the afternoon, and tonight Jean and Sheelagh and I will probably go to an open air flic in the village. I have just had tea. To—day is Sunday, but Donald is not over this week-end as he came last. Dreary!

      I have had a letter from each of you since I last wrote on Tuesday. Yours was the 14tn. Mummy, and Daddy's No. 18 of 12. You were just going down to see the Maitlands.  I am so glad that you have managed it at long last. I am sure they will be pleased. What a pity you won't see Peggy's children. She wrote and told me she was going down to Cornwall. I am so glad it will be a change for her. I hope you will have a pleasant day in London Mummy, or rather I hope you did! Gosh I would, so love to be at home again. My one dream is to get back to England with Donald, or rather not to England home.

      I haven't done anything this week really. I had a hall day on Wednesday and went into Cairo with Madeleine, we each did a bit of shopping, and I got you some pearl buttons and that sort of thing, and some stockings Mummy, I am afraid that they aren't at all what you would like as there are practically no real silk ones out here, and those that remain are a terrific price.  Still I think these are a lot nicer than anything one can get in England.  I wouldn't know when they will arrive, it depends on which route they go by I suppose, they shouldn't take more than about 6 weeks though nowadays I think. I have had to  buy myself some nighties, or rather I have so far bought one, as mine have worn out, it is all right Mummy, my old ones. You can get quite pretty voile ones for about 10 to 15 shillings, which wash beautifully, I am awfully tempted to sleep without anything on, but one should always keep one's tummy wrapped up. Donald sleeps in the most abbreviated sort of loin cloth of linen! He always calls it his tube, as it is just a tube! The heat is beginning to get me down, it is so hot, one has no energy left to do anything, the smallest thing is such a physical effort. If only it were cool at night it would be better, one wakes up all hot and sweaty.  Still after next month it gets cooler, only another 5 weeks or so with any luck. Donald hopes to get 48 Hours over his birthday, which fortuitously comes at the week-end, and I wrote suggesting we went to Menn[29], for a change, I haven't been there yet, and it may be a bit cooler.  I doubt it though. Still there is a pool there, and we might even go and look at the pyramids, if there is a moon, too hot at any other time.  Sorry my typing seems  to be very bad to-day.

   How odd Daddy, it does sound to hear of you going away on business again, have you been before since war broke out? How is your new adjutant incidentally.  You don't seem to have mentioned him at all?

   The fruit does sound lovely at home. Like South Africa the fruit here is never as nice as the English version of it. But I do enjoy the pink water melons very much, they are so refreshing. We eat great hunks of it all the while and spit out the black pips in the true native style. The grapes too are very good. There are masses of little hard peaches in the shops too, which I am sure would be very good stewed. There are no oranges at present, they are out of. season. Dozens of course of limes I love then. Oh yes cucumbers too, v. nice, but I don't like the eternal squashy tomatoes. I only like Manor Ho. or Holloways!

   I am afraid that there is no hope of promotion of any sort. There was a rumour last week that there was going to be some, no commissions, but a few stripes. Since then word has come out from England, that there will be no promotion at all for men or women. Filthy trick. It is the establishment.

   Mummy, you know you told me to write to Len Wesson well I was in the middle of a letter to him the other day, when someone said something ... Capt Wesson. I jumped out of my seat and discovered that he work in the same building as I do, though in a different branch.  So I sent him a note and he came to see me. He seems  to be quite nice, not as bad as I thought anyway. The thing which staggered me was that he said, oh I am married, and it turns out that in May he married a half Egyptian quarter Greek quarter French female, and they have a flat here. He said would I go and have dinner sometime, so I accepted with alacrity, Feel this will horrify his family and Auntie Maud quite rightly. It is a cardinal sin out here. Donald, merely said poor fool when I told him.[30]   

   How lovely to think of Carol Ann in a buffer chair, I keep on forgetting that she is rapidly getting bigger, babies grow at such a pace. I am dying to see the photographs of her.  Oh I wrote to Suzzer[31] and said would he send another print of that drawing of me as the one I sent to Donald never arrived. Do you think you could ask him about it, as Donald's photographs of me are so awful. We keep on meaning to have one taken. Well I have come to the end of this now. I think I shall go and have a shower before Sheelagh comes in.

Lots and lots of love,  R.

 

P.S. Please would you send me ORIENTAL SPOTLIGHT by (Jarvis?) Its v good but banned here.

???????

Merriall maintains King and Crown Prince Umberto friendly to us.


 

                                                   W/176595

                                                   Cpl Maitland, 'A.T.S.                                                                             

                                                   5.I.S. M.I.8.

                                 2:VIII:43.        M.E.F.      

                                             

                      No. 21.

 

     My Darling Mummy and Daddy,                         

         I am so pleased when I rang Donald up this week just the night before he came down, he said that he had a little surprise for me. I didn’t think it was anything more than a pound of sweets or a book or something, but all of a sudden he has at long last been made a temporary Fl/Lt again, or rather he was only acting before. He is terribly pleased so am I. About time too of course, but they are terribly against promoting V.R.s[32] in the R.A.F. if they can promote regulars. He has also got a new job which he is pleased about too, as it promises to be a good thing. He was very fed up and applied for a posting and the C.O. wouldn’t have it, and now this has happened he is quite happy to stay where he is. We had a heavenly weekend, Donald arrived lovely and early, about 5-0, I wasn’t even ready, and then we went off and had tea, and then baths and changed. We had a party by ourselves for once, on the Continental roof garden, and a very good dinner, and even some form of white wine to celebrate. Sunday was lovely too. We had a drink and lunch with Stanley and a charming Squadron Leader and his brother with whom he shares a flat in Helio. And also a very young Lt Col who by great luck had a staff car with him, so we all five if us and the driver packed in and went and had lunch at Gezeira on the Terrace in bathing suits and bathed. Then we wandered away from the club just over the wall all wet and watched the Americans playing base ball. Quite the stupidest game ever, merely rounders. I was shocked to think it was their national game. Donald went back about 9-0 with Marion's husband who is just off to (?censor?). Poor child. Dreadful for her, though she knew all the time he would be. A lovely weekend. But the usual think happened when I got back. Oh it does make me so mad. I do about half of my work unfortunately for one Capt. Peck, who is quite the rudest ad seeming ill-bred man I have ever met. He makes his sections life one big hell. He came in on Sunday a.m. and stormed at Mac because I had a half day and said why wasn’t my report written, and Mac pointed out that it was complete on my desk. Of course immediately I got in on Sunday evening he kicked up an awful fuss because I had a half day and went straight off to the Capt. Who runs the thing and said I must come under his rota for half days and so that he could then stop me having them. So I am therefore allowed one morning, as it happens to be an hour shorter than evenings, sorry longer than evenings, or two evenings off a week, even if Donald is here! And the section I am in can have a morning and en evening off a week! Marion had the whole week-end off this weekend. I am of course going to see the C.O. about it. Fortunately Donald hadn't gone when all this happened and so was able to cope with my extreme apoplexy. They do that sort of thing across you all the while. I was doing absolutely nothing that I was not allowed to, so don’t think that. Sorry, I am beginning to see red again. The thing which really finished Donald was to think  that someone of the same rank as himself would chuck me around like this. And when I think of the contemptuous way you now refer, in your letter today to Captains! Having spent all the day with two, no three people of your rank too, being treated as I ought, not as an --------  A.T.S. There is nothing I can do either. Incidentally it is A.T.S ruling out here that A.T.S are entitled to have a day and a half off a week! Sorry to bore yow with all this, I try and not tell you all these sort of things which madden me so, but this really is  the end in pettiness. I can take anything except interference in seeing Donald, I mean legitimately,  and I hardly think that a day off a fortnight is excessive.

  I am sorry to hear about your adjutant Daddy, you do seem to have bad luck with them, is it just not possible for you to get a good one? I had your letter of July 1 to-day Daddy, no. 19, telling me about Mummy going up to London. I think it is terrific Mummy. You must have enjoyed it. Did you get anything nice  at Debenhams, knowing that instinctively you would go there. I had a letter too from my Ma in Law yesterday, she was delighted that you had been down to see them at long last. I do think that it is dreadful to think that none of the children were at home. Isn't Emily a priceless little thing? It was very  good of you to go over to Aldershot to see the A.T.A. girl. I should think one way  another you would almost rather I was out here. Well I think I must write to Bunchie now, I had a letter from her in the middle of the week. Oh. Incidentally  I sent you a parcel too a few days, ago. Oh, isn't it nice, now Stanley has a  flat he has asked Donald and me to stay in it, we shall save some money too! You remember he was at Charterhouse with Donald and is in the regular R.A.F., a Wing Co. D.F.C. and bar, rather like Donald too look at, with very nice manners, and so kind to Donald in the way of fiddling him lifts in planes and all that kind of thing. He was in Malta for a year. They shared a study.  Must stop.   Lots and lots of love,   R.

P.S. I long for home more and more.


 

                                                   W/176595

                                                   Cpl Maitland, 'A.T.S.                                                                            

                                                   5.I.S. M.I.8.

                                 6:VIII:43.        M.E.F.      

                                              

                      No. 23.

(forgot one written on 2nd should have been 22)

 

     My Darling Mummy and Daddy,                         

   I am writing this after dinner as usual, or rather what should be dinner and usually isn't. Have just had a shower and feel much happier. I shall miss them in England, having had them for so long now! Am sitting in a nightie typing, with all the windows open, ie. our French ones and the other quite sizeable one. We haven't closed them since we have been here, I suppose they do close! We usually have the Venetian blinds closed to keep out the sun and flies.

    Did I tell you that I gave up smoking months ago? I kept on meaning to, knowing you would be pleased, but forgot. I smoked such a lot coming out and in Durban, and then when I got here, I found my mouth tasted so horrid, and that I am perpetually thirsty anyway, and then Donald had to give it up for a fortnight because he had something wrong with his gums, so I did too and have never started again since. Whether this will last at home I don't know.

      Have done nothing since I wrote to you last Tuesday, I shan't get a night off this week, there is so much to do. Very dreary. Jean and Sheelagh went into Cairo for their half day this afternoon, and so I went with them for an early tea. We had it at the Y.W.C.A. They are very nice places out here. We had a very nice tea beautifully served, two lovely thin sandwiches, and about three cakes, normally about 4d. each, and tea all for a shilling. It is in a lovely house right in the middle of Cairo. One can stay there too. Donald and I spent the first night in Suez in the one there, the only habitable place in the town. They are usually full of the milder type of A.T.S. dim officers of all the services, and nurses and the like, having a slightly sepulchral atmosphere. But I must say in spite of latter, they are nice and quiet and well run. The food is always excellent and cheap. I don't know whether men other ranks are not allowed or what, but one never sees them. They certainly weren't in Suez as it was v. small. I then dashed around looking in all the book-shops, an excellent excuse, for a complete Browning for Norman, Donald's dentist friend at, oh dear I nearly said the one thing Donald would cut out of my letter! The name of the place wouldn't convey a thing  to you though, and I don't even know whether the Times Atlas would mark it. I love the idea of Donald being friendly with a man who reads Browning!

      I have had a lovely lot of mail this week. a letter every day. Two from  Bunch, one from you Mummy, of 20 July, your no. 19 Daddy, and an old air mail one, written one day at Willenhall when you couldn't get any letter cards. no. 13. All about the Maitlands, and you going down to the South Coast, how odd and  maddening to think that you can't write and tell me all about it. I am so glad that after all this time, you have managed to go I know you hove been wanting to go for ages. Also so pleased to hear about you in London by yourself Mummy, said this in last letter I think.

   Fancy getting a whole load of hay off the garden. It is very good. I am quite glad I an not there to see it though, I love all the green lawns. Do give Mrs Edwards my whatever I should give her Mummy. I sent her an airgraph once, T don't know whether she ever got it. Or a letter, T forget.

      Such a lot of coincidences. Pauline, one of the Lance Cpls, who was at London, evacuated to Cambridge, knows somehow Rosemary Tabrums fiancé, she had a letter from him the other day as he is near Cairo, well not more than a hundred or so miles anyway! I had a letter from her to-day, and when he comes to Cairo I shall, see him. Also, Marion, the girl who has just got married, husbands C.O. is Pam Winter's Canadian husband! Pauline knows her too as they both live in Halifax. We discovered that we both knew Pam Winter and I knew Rosemary and she knew Charles ages ago, and now they’ve turned up. Amazing isn't it.  You remember Pam Winter was a great friend of Bunch's at Lawnside.

   Had a letter from Donald this morning, it only took 4 days to do 100 miles. He has had one from me in two. He enclosed your letter to him Daddy. Isn't it odd he has just had two letters from you and his father telling him not to worry to much if he can't get a job he wants, and now he has got the job and the tape.                                               

   I was wondering if it would be a good idea to send Carol Ann some shoes. They look so divine here the baby shoes, and I feel they are probably most difficult at home. I think I shall. I love the idea of her tearing about backwards in her buffer chair. Do all babies go backwards rather than forwards at first? I seem to remember Colin doing it. I do hope that our children will come up to expectations as much as Carol Ann!! It must be a boy though.                                                              

   I have a frightful suspicion after all these years I am cutting my left

wisdom tooth, the first. It is very sore, and I have a fine line in glands just near. My twelve year old molars were most uncomfortable I remember at Cambridge!

   Well goodnight now and lots and lots  of love,

Mummy, I quite forgot, you said you were sending Donald £5 for his birthday, lovely, where will it be sent to? His account is at Barclays D.C.O. Ismailia. Because he never managed to trace some money you sent him once before and he is so worried about it. The money you sent me came to the National Bank of Egypt, but Aunties reached me through Barclays D.C.O.

 

 


25                                                 Cpl Maitland, A.T.S.                                                                            

                                                   5.I.S. M.I.8.

                                 15:VIII:43.        M.E.F.      

       My Darling Mummy and Daddy, Have just come in from a nice quiet half day spent doing nothing in Cairo. First of all this afternoon, I sat and sewed till about 3-45, I am at long last making up the slip from the white silk I bought in Durban to go underneath the white frock I bought when we went on leave. Then I had a shower and went into Cairo and had a nice quiet tea in the Y.M.C.A., I like that place, it is so peaceful. Then I sat in the reading room and read and then wandered around a bit, and finally had an early dinner at the nice little Greek restaurant Donald and I found when he was last up. Such a good dinner, very nice chicken soup and then v. good veal and the most lovely green beans, even greener than Mrs Jones and new potatoes and coffee, and then I came home.  After I have written this, I shall probably contemplate sewing again. I am going to make a dirndl skirt to wear next time Donald comes up, with the white shirt I bought in Durban. It is dark red stuff, with large sailing ships on it in off white, the same as our curtains, only they are in blue.  Cost, 7/-. All the Greek and French and all the various other mixtures wear these brilliant skirts and white tops and they look so nice in the heat. I just love this idea of wearing white in the heat. It maker one look so much cooler. I just love thinking what l am going to wear when Donald comes down, one gets so fed up with eternal khaki wherever you look, and as you night imagine Donald isn't much more enamoured, of it than I am. It was so funny, the other night when I had dinner with the little F.O. whom Donald and I met with Stanley and who has now left for home, and is due to ring you up. I saw him in uniform for the first time, and he    said tentatively after about an hour, I thought you would have to wear uniform, I gaped, and he waved his hands vaguely and said well you have no stripes, no badges, no shoulder tabs or anything, no pockets! I was most amused. Out here we all wear just poplin shirts, the ones I had in England, without ties, and the collars either sewn on, or anchored with studs, and rather crumpled K.D. skirts, (khaki drill) My skirts are nearly white anyway with constant washing. We are supposed to wear bush shirts or bush jackets, which have tabs and pockets and the like. I do when I want to look tidy, but they are much hotter.

     I was so pleased when I came in to find that miniature edition of the  Weekly Times, of 23 June. Thank you Daddy. I am always dying for something to read. I an reading an excellent book at the moment, called "Desert Encounter" by Knud Holmboe, and is published in the Guild Books, paper, and I think something like l/-. Sorry Daddy, I am afraid that you will feel rather left out, the other day, I wrote to Mummy for her birthday, and to Nanny and to Bunch all in the same day. I will write you one for your birthday! Thought I might buy some slippers next time I go to the Musky, that will be when Donald comes on Saturday week, for his birthday. I shall send this through the censor here, which I hate doing, so it will probably arrive about the same time as the ones I sent through  Donald the other day, he has gone off to Tripoli for a couple of days. It will be nice for him, he has been dying to go for ages, as some great friends of his are there. He really wanted to go by road, but of course it would take much too long. Still, it will be interesting. His job necessitates him tearing about, the new one, and he is delighted. Haven't had any letters, or rather letter cards, since 4 August, when, I had one from Bunch of 25 July . I do hope they haven't been shot up. I went and spoke severely to the post corporal this a.m. and said I thought he burnt my letters.

      0h, I forgot to tell you how charming the little Greek proprietor of the cafe was. He came up and said quite out of the blue, no drinks to-day, and I looked vaguely surprised, and he told me it vas a very sacred Moslem day, and none were sold for 24 hours. Ramadan starts on 30 of the month, when I believe the country goes mad. You know they fast from sunrise to sunset for a month, and eat and drink all night, and have two days flat out of over eating and drinking the first time they see the New moon at the end of the month.

   Well goodbye for now. Longing to hear from you again, give my love to everyone and keep most of it for yourselves, I do miss you so,

                           Romie.

There is a nice eclipse of the full moon going on at the moment. Its Sunday. I went to rather a nice service in the camp this a.m. at 10.30.

 


                                                      Cpl Maitland, A.T.S.

                                                      5.1.S.    M.T.8.

  No. 26.                                             M.E.F.

                                17.V111.'43.

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy, I don't quite know why I am writing to yon

again so soon, as I only wrote two days ago. But I had three letters from you yesterday and a pile of magazines this morning. It was your number 20 Daddy, of June 4 and two written on the same day from you Mummy. I was so pleased to get them, How lovely your descriptions of the garden do sound. Surely they are cutting the oats very early this year aren't they? I suppose that Bertie enjoyed himself enormously chasing rabbits in entirely the opposite direction from which they ran. I do hope he won't have forgotten me when I get home, he is always so pleased to see me. I have no idea whether Donald qualifies for the Africa Star Daddy, I am afraid. I was most amused the other day, I read in some paper, from home that ever since it has been mentioned in parliament, the troops have done nothing but discuss it. Until I told someone in the office, and thus promoted a violent argument, I have never heard anyone mention it. The Americans are very unpopular for being cluttered up with medals, issued with their cigarette candy and gum ration once a week, ie, for being in Cairo for one week. They get them on arrival.

    You do seem to have had a do over August Bank Holiday. Gosh they did make a lot of money at the Carrs, I can't imagine where it all comes from, I did enjoy those fetes we had in the garden before. Am so glad that it was fine. I suddenly remembered in the middle of the day, that it was Bank Holiday, and then went drearily on working.

    Didn't know Bunch was going up to Lytham for a fortnight. You will miss them, I suppose that the baby will be even fatter than it was before. I will dash off My J. an airgraph Mummy, I wrote to her ages ago, I suppose that it has got lost. On June 29 according to my list, where I try to remember to put all the letters I wrote and get, or I get hopelessly lost,  there is nothing to mark time, but Donald coming over. Sorry my typing is rather bad, the wind keeps on blowing the page. T hat no idea it was Aunt Bee's silver wedding I will do my duty! I must write to Joy too. I cannot keep abreast of my correspondence at all. I never seem to write to anyone but you, Bunch , the 2 Maitlands, and one or two people like Buffy. I did an awful thing yesterday, I wrote you a fairly innocuous letter, and a very scurrilous one to Peggy, and meant to send the latter to Donald to censor, and of course made a mistake, and I see now that I  have posted the wrong one. I nearly always send all my letters to him, but I wanted you to get yours; quickly, and for once, hadn't said anything about anything I shouldn't! A very rare occurrence. I usually put in one or two acid remarks about A.T.S, or something and so don't have them censored at the office.

      Jean has bruised her big toe joint and so is having 48 hours in bed, lucky thing. I am so glad I don't think Donald will have to begin work till a fairly civilised hour in his' new job. You know he was supposed to start work at 5-30 before? His tea was usually brought about then I think. Unfortunately the C.0, went round one day, and there wasn't a single officer at work at 6-0. so on Saturday a.m. of all days they had to parade at 5-30. He likes getting up at that hour, or rather working those hours. But I always suffered, because on Sunday a.m. still wakes up, and I think quite unintentionally wakes me! I just seem to find myself awake then anyway.

   Well anyway, I don't think there is any more to tell you. I am sorry all my  good intentions were thwarted about you having a quick letter, I suppose that 25 and 26 will now arrive together.

                Lots and lots of love,

                               R.

I shall have a nice quiet afternoon, or would of there were no flies, with the magazines.

Its v. noble of you to send Vogue and the Countryman. Donald will be delighted with the latter.

 

Donald's new address

84415 Flight Lieutenant DSM 26 A.A.C.U. RAF, MEF.


                                                      Cpl Maitland, A. T. S

                                                      5.1.3.   M.I.8.

                           22.V111.'43 ,             M.E.F.

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

             My half day again, I have had two very near together this week, and Sunday. Jean, Sheelagh and I have just been to tea with a friend of Sheelagh's father or grandfather (who lived here). She has a beautiful house about half a mile from here. I did enjoy it so much. Not antique furniture, but just pleasant, and lovely Persian rugs, and so cool and clean and comfortable. It is the first house I have been into since Durban. It was lovely to see anyone dressed in a thoroughly English fashion. type frock! And to be waited on properly with nice china. (Even the best hotels china is now decidedly patchy!) On going into the drawing room, I was so terribly tempted, by the Englishness and cleanliness of it all, to say politely, "And how do you manage about bugs here?..." I did not. It is of course a burning topic here with everyone, I mean all the services! I have been bitten all over the Middle East. In Shepherds, in my billet at my desk... but curiously enough, never in Hel house, though one day in the bar Donald was horrified to see one emerge from his top pocket! Though I seem to be getting better, I suppose my blood is thinner and not so appetising!

     I have at the moment a raving passion for mangoes, it has even superseded grapes at the minute. They are so smooth.  You remember those oval orange things with the enormous flat stone, which you eat with a spoon like an ornage. The latter are out of season at the moment. We are not allowed to buy water melon either at the moment, unless it is the only fresh fruit available, as the Wogs have a nice habit of pumping water, Sweet Water Canal or Nile type, six weeks injections if you fall in! To make it weigh heavier. But the ones the army buys are o.k. and we get that 5 days out of 7 so it matters little, and sweet melons, which anyway I like better are o.k.

\    Donald wants two bath towels 6 feet by four for his birthday, isn't it heavenly? In Hel House, they give us two minute face towels things, and by the time we have each had a shower before dinner and another one before bed, they are just pulp. Not that we are often quite as clean as all that! Well anyway next week end, with Stanley we will be able to use a large towel each before Donald takes them back.

     I have just finished my red skirt, 1 think it will be a big success. I had. an inspiration, on my last half day, the day before yesterday, I went down the village and borrowed a machine from one of the little furnishing shops and made it there. It was so funny, it is almost on the pavement, as the shop is of course open to the street, and everyone thought, as usual, that I was quite mad. So did the man who owned it, because I would do French seams. Both he and his

Assistant came up to me, and said that, the right side was "Qoise," and the other "mushqoise".  And then when I showed them, sort of tapped their heads!

   We are all going to an open air flic in the village to-night, we very often do on. Sundays. The place is flooded with then, there are four in the village alone, apart from two ordinary, and dozens in Cairo, all fairly full too. One buys 1d. worth of peanuts, roasted, to help, and pay about a shilling for seats. I shall buy some mangoes on the way home. The fruit shops seem to stay open all the night, and the flower shops. It is incredible but I think the owners just sleep outside on the pavement.   Well I must away, it is 7-0. I want to take down some dobi too.

With lots of love, R

 

PS Had your letter of 10:VIII:43 Daddy, will answer it in next.


No 28.                                 30.Vlll.'43.           M.E.F.

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     Have just had such a heavenly week-end, and it is such a horrible contrast coming back here, but this has been enormously relieved as I have had no less than 9 letters to-day. Two from Pegs, one from you Mummy, one from Bunch, one from Mrs Maitland, one from Beattie, and two Times, I am enjoying them thank you Daddy. Also before I forget, that book on British Standard Products arrived on Sat. I opened the envelope and nearly died, couldn't think whatever it was, Donald though is moot interested, and he thoroughly approves of them apparently the RAF is run exclusively on their lines. Will begin from the beginning. Donald was coming up on Saturday afternoon, with Stanley who was going down to have lunch with him, and could then fly him back. I rung up as usual on Friday night, and Donald said everything had all gone wrong, and that he had to go to Haifa the next morning. My heart sank into my boots, until I realised that he of course was flying and would come back after lunch. His C.0. has a passion for flying him around the countryside, and would take me too if I could only get the time off, I wish to heaven I could. Anyway he arrived about 7-0. and we went along to Stanley's flat and changed, and then went along to the new RAF officers club they have opened here. It is really very nice, with of course a very good RAF band. It always appears to me that Donald knows everyone in the Middle East, and Donald and Stanley are too awful together, as they were at school always with at least 6 people in the room. First time Donald and I have ever managed to spend his birthday together. Donald had unfortunately to go to Air HQ the next morning as he was so late up on Saturday, and so we couldn't go and buy silver in the Musky, we got up nice and late though, and I pottered around and spent hours under the shower, and finally went down and met Mimi, Stanlev's girl friend at the Helio sporting club for a cup of coffee. She is a v. nice girl, we think he ought to marry her, but he doesn't know. Her mother is English and her father Egyptian. Oh it is a terrible mistake these mixed marriages.  They lived in England for several years and Mimi looks quite English, was educated at a convent, and so is R.C. her mother is C.of E. while her father is a Mussalman. I am so sorry for her, she doesn't like Egypt or Egyptians. We had lunch in the flat, and slept all the afternoon, and then tea, and then went into Cairo, and decided in the end that we would have eggs and bacon for dinner, cooked of course by Donald, the other two didn’t know how to crack an egg! It was lovely, I forgot for 24 hours I was an A.T.S. People treat one so differently in the Metro and the like as a civilian.  Stanley flew Donald back at 8-0 this morning.   He has a collection of people to look after about 5 minutes from Donald's HQ.   It was so nice staying in a flat for a change, instead of a hotel, lovely being able to mess about there.

    This is ALL C0MPLETELY in the air, but Donald is going to try and see if he can get me transferred to the W.A.A.F.s as an officer. I don't think it can be done, as I am in this racket, I am sure it could  if I weren't, but they won't let you out, but there is no hope of any advancement, and promotion, even one more stripe is off for the duration for all of us. If IF I should be able to get out, I have no doubt that I should have to do the same type of job, only possibly from another point of view, and so it would be quite interesting. As Donald said we have neither of us any thing to lose by doing this. I can't do anything me end, but he might be able to. It would make life so much better from every point of view. W.A.A.F  officers are quite civilised out here, and live in flats and things A.T.S. officers never can. I am afraid that there is practically no hope of being able to fix it though, under the circumstances.

      Fancy it is Carol Ann's birthday to-morrow, it is amazing to think she was born a year ago, and yours the next day, Mummy. I will think of you both a lot.  I had a sweet letter from Beattie all about her. Saying that Tom adored her, I never knew that. No one ever told me! How lovely all the Victoria plums must have been, oh dear I do wish I could send you sugar, but I can't. There just isn't any. The dates are all ripe, they look so lovely all hanging up, but I am sure, if Bunch saw the squalor of the people who dried them, she'd never touch another one! I wouldn't. I told yon I had mango mania didn't I?

     Well I think that is all the babble, I am afraid  that I haven't written to you for nearly a week, I meant to on Saturday afternoon, so that Donald could initial it there and then, but I was so exhausted after packing and the excitement, and rolled myself in a sheet as always, in the afternoon to keep off the flies and slept. P.S. Sunday was my day off for the month, Generous.

                  Well goodbye for now and lots of Love,                


No 29.

                              2.IX.'43.

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy, I have just had a most energetic evening. I worked till 8-30. and then walked home, and ate some supper, and then did my week's washing. I always seem to accumulate masses. Changing all ones clothes every day means a lot, but in this country it is so difficult to wash anything, they don't seem to believe in hot water. We have a very little every day, and then it is only tepid, and so very, very hard. There is only one foot bath too with hot water laid on other than the bath on my floor. Curious. Even Stanley's block of flats, which are terribly nice only have hot water on Saturday nights and Thursday mornings for some curious reason. I trust they don't all do this in winter. Have just been scavenging around, as, as usual I am fiendishly hungry at night. It is no use, after having dinner at the correct time for 11 years, I can hardly be expected to eat it at any other time. Anyway who wants an enormous meal in the middle of the day in this weather. Have made some coffee and found some bread and marmalade. Lovely marmalade. They have some tinned Cooper's Oxford in the shops I saw the other day, I shall send you some in the next parcel. Incidentally have you ever had the one I sent off about three weeks after we landed?

    Anyway I got my reward for working over time, I had the two copies of the Times that you or Miss Partridge put in the same envelope. One of July 28. Marvellous. The post is a lot better. Thank you Daddy, very much. I do enjoy them. The papers out here are very mediocre. No articles worth reading at all, and I never hear the wireless, as I am never in at the right moment. Have had a marvellous shower of mail this week. I think I told you in my last letter that I had ten letters on Monday and Tuesday and then I had a parcel of Punches and magazines on Wednesday. Everyone appreciates the latter very much. I and all my  various friends read them, and then I give them to Donald and they circulate through the R.A.F. I sent a large pile the other day to a girl in the isolation hospital with scarlet fever. A sweet child. Such bad luck she had first dyp and then a fortnight after she had come back from a convalescent place in Palestine, scarlet fever. She is better now and in Palestine again. Only 19.

    It is all right, Mummy, I wrote to Ma Jay at the end of June, which I suppose got sunk or something, and have not written again, so she ought to have got it by now. I keep a large chart of when I write letters pinned on the wall, in the hope that I MAY write to all the people I ought at the right minute. Thank you for telling me the size of Carol Ann's feet. I am going into Cairo for my half day to-morrow and will have a look round. I have seen some very nice light wool cloth here at 10/- a yard 28 inches wide. I don't know whether you would be interested in any. I think I shall save up and buy myself some and keep it to be made up at home. I am at the moment scouring the place to find some no. 13 knitting pins for some socks for Donald as Marion had some tropical khaki wool she didn't want. You should see the way Donald has treasured the ones I sent out here, they are beautifully darned! I love knitting socks. It is so easy.

How nice having the Hills for the week-end, a v. nice change  for them. What an incredible amount of plums from our tree. It is coming up to scratch. It sounds so lovely, the fruit out here is of course lovely. But it is not all sun warmed! The tomatoes are nothing like as nice. I think it is really too hot for them they haven't the real flavour. We did have a lovely cantaloupe melon yesterday though.

      Isn't it nice Stanley has asked us to spend Donald's next week end in the flat. As well as being oodles cheaper, it is so much nicer. It is sweet to see Donald and Stanley walking along together, they're so alike, we came to the conclusion it must have been the gym man at school! Donald as usual left his razor behind. He leaves them all over the Middle East. He is frightfully busy at the minute digging his tent out. Every one thinks he is mad. The best tents out here have the floor dug out so that you can stand up and beaten hard. They haven't where Donald is now for some reason. They have those EPIP tents, double ridge ones. (Egypt Palestine and India Pattern) I suggested he might have a savage to do it or some of the men but apparently he likes digging in the afternoon, it is something to do to stop him sleeping! He seems to be pleased with his job. But there is a lot to do. Isn't it amazing, at the station, there are two people who live in Codsall, an P.O. Laurie Crane who lives in Sandy Lane, and a Flight Sgt. who lives opposite the church, and another man who lives in Penn Fields, and another officer he was at school with.  The Crane man knows you at any rate by name Daddy,                    

     I just love the idea of Bunch and Peter having to fly back from the Isle of Man! I mean when I was on a ship for 6 weeks w1th no hope of  getting off however sick I might have been! Poor Lindsay and one or two others pretty near died. Lindsay just lay in a coma for nearly week. I only felt really bad for two days. Then I only missed three meals but lost nearly all the others! It is an awful feeling though. The men had a terrible time of course. Lucky they were both ill, it is so awful seeing someone else feeling marvellous when you feel terrible. I think the most awful thing is watching ones clothes and the curtains swing. And the ship creaking like mad. The above sounds rather horrid. I shall eternally feel superior being on a boat for so long.

Well I am going to have s shower and get in my washing. All bone dry by now, after an hour! and go to bed. Oodles of love,   R.

 

I had another letter from Gladys this week. She's been v. good I've had several from her.


No 30.

Donald looks after <censor> of some anti <censor> units all over the place. Don’t mention it in letters to him.

 

 

                        Sunday 4.IX.'43.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy, Got a letter from you Daddy, yesterday (of 25/8), written at home about Mummy's hand. I do hope it is all right, how dreadful for you Mummy. I hope Doctor Curtis is in and you could get it attended to immediately. It is the second time it has happened to you isn't it? I remember very well in Parkdale Bunny or Sam biting you when he had been so badly bitten by that Alsatian. Trust it won't scar your hand too badly. Did Bertie set on the dog or vice versa? It was horrid reading your letter Daddy, I thought Bertie had been killed to begin with! You know I am getting used t this country, because I immediately thought oh dear poor Mummy, now she will have to have injections for weeks, as you do out here, to prevent rabies, one every day for 21 days. Hope that it will be all right by the time you get this.

    So nice I made a terrific effort and got up at 6-30 this morning and went to Cairo Cathedral to the 7-30 service with Marion, the newly married one and a friend of hers whom I like very much. It was lovely out and so cool and lovely shadows. Very nice service taken by the bishop and the Chaplain General or whatever you call him to the forces in the M.E. Only about 50 or 60 people there and 4 people officiating. The cathedral is just on the Nile at the back of Kaar Nil barracks, and it looked lovely, it is almost dangerously high at the moment. It was vaguely like early morning in Freetown or Mombassa. Sort of limpid and wonderful reflections of the palms and trees in the water, with great promise of heat! Then we had breakfast on the way back at one of the Brazilian coffee stores, where they make divine coffee, and lots of croissants. Donald and I were thrilled to bits in the Brazilian Coffee Stores in Alex, there was a Brazilian serving! Had a thoroughly virtuous morning as I went again at 10-3O as they were dedicating a chapel in the place where I work. It used to be the Sergeants Mess cookhouse;! It is really quite nice though.

    We have a new lunch system. It is very pleasant. We have for our sins masses, at leaf 20 signals women living here too, and they are too awful at meals, in particular lunch, and the crush is enormous. So we have the system. It was pretty frightful before I went away last week-end, but when I cam back Jean and Madelein informed me that I would hate to have lunch downstairs so they had  evolved a plan. (I, as you can guess being the worst hater.) A friend of Madelein's has a small flat very near here, and he is away all the day, and he said that we could use it whenever we liked. So we have lunch there, we buy eggs  and bread and butter and melon and have a far better lunch and enjoy it and sleep all the afternoon in arm chairs. We also have an enormous amount of fun planning how good a meal we can eat for how little, we don't reckon to spend more than a shilling each, which in the country takes some doing! Yesterday for example we had sardines, cream cheese and peanuts and bananas, last altogether and then coffee. Oh and bread and butter of course, and some delicious rusks they make by drying their rather peculiar bread. We all enjoy ourselves enormously. One needs so little food in this country.

      Re your letter Daddy, don’t worry, I don't ever feel the slightest    regret that I went into the A.T.S. however much I hate it. I could never have got out here, and , quite apart from Donald, I am enormously interested to see places. I know now much more than I ever could have known about this country,  had I just passed through it, and seen the Pyramids and the Musky! I certainly feel I know quite a bit about it, especially since one normally of course would have a high standard of living. Out here too, we, at least all my various friends, feel that we are fairly useless. But I suppose one always feels that, and back in England it may not seem so. I mean to you, we may seem to be doing that awful phrase "our bit"!  I really would quite like this country I think if I lived as a civilian in a house, which was comfortable and CLEAN. And if I could have food at the right times of the day suited to the climate and not a wintry day in England. And of course some form of locomotion! Not that I do  much walking, but you know even half a mile across the desert to work, in the heat seems a long way. Ants are the thing which stagger me out here. We did have a few little ones once on our balcony, and they were just starting on the French window, so I took a whole tin of Keatings and they haven't been too friendly to me since then. We don't see them nowadays. But they scramble madly about Stanley's flat and Ken's, where we have lunch. They pop out of the bar and that sort of thing. We put the chocolates in the ice box! However after bugs I am quite chummy with ants!

    Have just been bullying one of the A.T.S. who got married when she came out here, and is having a baby. The silly child can't take A.T.S. food, and doesn't seem to realise that she must have some other, and so feels terrible. She is just waiting to go home. With concentrated bullying, I have made her promise that she will go down to Home Made Cakes and drink a pint of milk a day . She is a silly child, she is dying to have this baby and doesn't have the sense to realise that she must eat. I shared a room with her in Durban, and all the   time I had to bully her about something, no sense at all. I       years and years older than all the bods here, her husband is just waiting to go either to Sicily, Italy or Burma or some place. Well, I must go to work I suppose. This   should be my half day, but I have not finished a report which has to be in this evening. It necessitate so much arguing.

Lots and lots of love, and do hope that your hand is all right  Mummy, and poor silly little  Bertie. It was horrid, that sinking feeling of no Bertie to be  pleased to see me when I come home,  R.

 

PS I bought my god child some ???shoes.


No 31.

                            8 & 9.IX.'43.

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                     Have had quite a number of letter from you this week, since I wrote on Sunday. One from you Mummy written on the 30 and one from Bunch and Nanny. Couldn't think why none of you mentioned your hand, and then I realised that your last letter Daddy, which I got so quickly was written last. I do hope that it is all right now it must have been such a horrid shock.

      Lovely to hear of you having Cannas out. I think that they are the golden sort of lilies that are out here. I saw them in Durban too, both red and gold. Otis knew quite a lot of the flowers and trees when he came up for the week-end so I found out all I could from him. The flamboyants are over now, and there is little out, as the Bougainvillaea was over long ago. There is some Morning Glory still, and the ripe dates look lovely. The most beautiful golden brown.

      Am going to ring Donald up to-night, when I rang up the night before last he had gone to Tripoli for about five days. I am so glad, he has a lot of friends up there. The unit he was with before I landed is there, and he has been dying to see them all again. He didn't think he would be able to get up there this week. He is coming back today, and down to see me I hope this week-end. We are going to stay with Stanley again I think. I shall see Alan Cooper then too, he is the brother of the man whom I hope rung you up at home, I think it would have been a bit soon, Daddy when you wrote. Alan has just flown home too. So I shall hear all the latest news about Birmingham. He is a squadron Leader about 35, shares a flat with Stanley. I do hope that I shall be able to buy Donald (us!) some silver in the Musky too this week-end, for his birthday. We couldn't last time, as he had to go to Air H.Q. in the morning.

      It is now much cooler. I am so relieved.  At least it is cooler for here, though still miles above English heat waves of course! Last  night I nearly got blown out of bed. It was terribly windy on the balcony. I tied myself in with my dressing gown cord. It is possible to go out in the afternoon now too, which is pleasant.

    10. p.m.  Since I started this, I have been down to phone up Donald and he told me that Italy has fallen. In some ways I think this is terrific but I am very worried what will happen to us. Donald and me I mean. In the thing he is in at the minute, he should be safe for a month or three with any luck, and I don't think they can move me too hurriedly. Oh dear. Still as long as he doesn't go to India. As he said over the phone the Burma Road draws nearer. It is wonderful though Italy falling with no fighting much, the saving of lives. I did get a shock I must say. Thank heaven I think that Donald may be coming up in time for lunch on Sat. so we shall be able to get things organised a bit about what to do. I am sorry this letter will now be very vague as I feel in rather a muddle about everything and don't know what to do at all. The end of the war does seem  so much nearer though. He has been up to Tripoli for a few days. Lovely for him, he has seen all the people he wanted to, and got back here last night.

    Sorry I am too distrait to write any more, I must eat my mango and go to bed I think, Lot & lots of love.

 

This sounds terrible. I am really thrilled about Italy because the end of the war seems so much closer. We are all so pleased today that we are even thinking quite sensibly about the end of the war! Its incredible. I do really think it might be over next year.

  I am going to make Donald have his photo taken on Sat as he's coming up before tea. Then I will too. I know you want them too. Am looking forward to the B. of C.A. Oodles of love. R.


                          13: IX:'43.          

    Darlings, it is Monday again. I nearly always seem to write to you then. Donald went off again this morning, and so it is rather drear at the minute. We had a heavenly week end as usual, He arrived in time for tea on Saturday, which we had at the Helio Sporting Club with Stanley and Mimi and a few other bods. They were all bathing, I couldn't be bothered, so Donald didn't either. It was rather amusing, there was a dear old boy there, really old Daddy! who talked to Donald and me for hours while we were all watching a water polo match, and told us all about his prickly heat on his behind. Then he went in and changed, and turned out to be a Brigadier, the Military Secretary. I was a little shattered being dressed as a private. (I don't often wear stripes as it enables troops to shout at you so much more easily out of lorries and the like,) This is always happening though. We stayed in the flat again. It is pleasant and so sweet of them to have us like this. It is full now. Two squadron leaders and Stanley. The other two are much older, 37 and 41 (special for Bunch!) One of them the older brother of the Edgbaston man has just flown back from England. I do wish I had known he was going, I would have at least sent you some mail. We had dinner in the flat, and then went down to the R.A.F. officers club and danced. I do like Mimi, she is charming. She always takes a great hound around with her, which somebody found in Tobruk, an Iti beast. Terribly like a fox hound, only longer

legged, and not quite so heavy. We did nothing all Sunday. Lovely and peaceful. I had to work in the evening, but no for very long. We had the flat to ourselves all the afternoon, and the greater part of the evening. Lovely. Except for Alan (Edgbaston) who retired to bed with a temp of 102. Sand fly I expect, fever I mean. One runs terrific high temperatures out here for practically no reason. I have had a temp of 103 and normal a few hours later. We got quite domestic putting him into dry pyjamas and sheets every now and then. Donald had the same thing a fortnight, and was quite convinced he was going to die. He always is with a cold or anything. Then Stanley dumped Donald this morning on his regular Monday trip to some nearby place. Marvellously convenient for us, as he gets Donald back in time for work at about 9-0.  It is so lovely just being able to sit around without having to go out, and not having to do anything. There is no way we can repay them which 1s the trouble. We bought them a bottle of gin this week-end. English 18 shilling I think. Very hard to get.

      Wish I could tell you about work.

    Daddy, I have been meaning to write and tell you how terrific I think it is you being asked to stand for parliament. Well of course there is no one I would  rather vote for and trust more in that direction. Of course it is impossible I quite see that. It is anyway an honour to have been asked. It would be awful having to dash to and from London all the time.

      I haven't had any mail from you specifically since I wrote last Thursday. Had a lot waiting for me when I got in last night. An airgraph, sweet one from Miss Partridge, two from Pegs, and one from Joy. And a Times, of July 14. I had 28 a fortnight ago, you never can tell. When everyone here has read all my things I take them along to the flat. They will end their rounds at home again I should think!

   Donald and I are joining the Helio sporting club. We can't go there really except as members at the week-end, I went to the secretary of the Officers club at 5.I.S. this a.m. and he will get Donald in on their quota, and I can then have a ticket as his wife. The little man was most helpful. It is 85 p.t. a quarter, 17/-. We only pay one sub. as husband and wife. I can't join as an other rank, but seem to be able to go as a guest, and of course with Donald it is ok. I can go. One can bathe there, eat drink, play squash etc. and they have a library! It would be nice for Donald and Stanley to play squash. I might too.

   Joy was most enthusiastic about Carol Ann, and the fact that no one cried at  the party.

   Well I must go to bed, I am quite dead. woke up at about 5-30 this a.m. and   didn't dare go to sleep again in case we were late.

              Lots and lots of love, R.

 


                            16.IX.'43

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy, This  is Thursday. Last wrote on Monday, but as I sent it to Donald to be censored you will probably get the two about the same time. Haven't decided what to do with this at present. Depends what I say! Mummy, I have just written to Ma J. for the third time. I do hope that she will get it all right, it is maddening the way they don't get to her. Actually I wrote to the Manor Ho. to her, but airgraphs are guaranteed, to get there, and Joe Illidge ought to know her well enough by now. I think I have spelt Joe's name wrong haven't I? Of coarse it is a peculiar name in the beginning.

    I have had masses of letters this week, two from you Mummy. the cont. ones, one from you Daddy, one from Bunch, two, like yours Mummy, from Pegs, and one from Mrs M. and one from Rosemary T. I am so sorry to hear that Dick has gone back to West Africa. It is bad luck. I thought that he was never going back there, due to dysentery or something. You know I missed Rosemary's fiancé out here by inches? Maddening. Glad to hear that your hand is all right now Mummy. Though from your description it might have been nothing. I will write to Pauline, probably after this, if I can think how in the name of fortune to send it when I don't know her married name. I am so pleased that she has a daughter. The Baylisses must be so delighted too. They really will be able to make a nursery again at the Field.

      I do hope that you had a lovely week-end in London. AND Mummy that you got some clothes. I was wondering if you would like me to get you some woolly material out here. I have seen some pretty stuff here in the village, which is not too ruinous, I think you had better have some for Xmas. Things do sound so short at home. But the clothes look as heavenly as ever in Vogue. I would much rather have them all plain. Do get some clothes though Mummy. It is awfully sweet to offer to sand Donald socks, it is quite all right though. He merely is very fond of hand knitted ones; they are better in the sand I think. He can get fairly decent ones from the stores. I shall have finished him a pair when he comes down next time in ten days. Mummy, how silly of me, on looking at your letter, as I answered it, you have written above Pauline's name. Thank you. Now I will send her an airgraph this evening. How nice to see Mrs C.B. again. She is a dear.

       Now Daddy. I think you are very good about writing, though, because I know how terribly busy you always are. Did I tell you in my last that I had a sweet letter from Miss Partridge? I am sorry that you are having such a lot of trouble with the running, or rather organisation of the H.G. It is trying. Glad that they still manage to give you petrol to go by car to courses anyway. Thank you so much for getting me Oriental Spotlight. I am longing to read it.

    Haven't done anything at all since I last wrote to you, except go and have dinner with Alan, the S.Leader who was ill at the weekend. We had dinner in the flat. I did enjoy it. We spent two hours just saying, good heavens, did you  really know so and so? He knows the Beans and Marshes and Swanson Thompson complex and the Ferrys and all the gang from the other side. And used to go to Aberdovey every year till 1924. (bearing in mind he is now 37.) He used to play golf there with a handicap of 2 or something as a schoolboy, and has played in the English championships. and so of course know the Baylii. He knows Kathleen Marsh too, but didn't know she was out here. I shall most certainly go and see her Mummy, as soon as ever all my lost address books and the like arrive from Durban. But I haven't a thing like that  at present. I should love to.

    I really will get my photo taken again sometime. I tried to make Donald last Saturday evening. But we got to the Sporting Club at tea time and Stanley and Mimi and Alan were all there, and so I gave it up; the trouble is you know I look so foul in sort of guinea, two guinea efforts. I always glare. Donald did take some snaps of me but they are lousy. He won't take any more, and I won't let him. They were taken in Alex. I am quite a bit fatter. My face is rounder, and my ribs don't show at all. I don't know how much I weigh. All the machines are in Kilos. What with buying fruit and bread, in okes, and sweets in kilos, I get most muddled. I think probably oke is only a Wog term for Kilo, they both seem to be about the same amount. about 2 ¼ pounds.

    Don't think there is any more to tell you right now.

             Lots and lots of love, R.


No 34.

                                  20.IX.'43.

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy, Monday again. I try to keep to the same days     writing to you then I do get in two letters a week. This will be rather dopey I am afraid, as I was just contemplating going to bed when someone came and told me that the list had been changed and I was duty N.C.O. which means staying up till all hours to see that everyone is in.

   I haven't heard from. you since I last wrote, but with any luck ought to get some mail to-morrow, as it usually comes in at the beginning of the week.

   Have just been phoning Donald. He has been up to Haifa for a night on business, and  ran into Otis there, and went to his place in Aleppo for three days. I am feeling v. jealous! He had a lovely time. I am so glad that he could manage it, he has always been wanting to go. He unfortunately got an attack of gippy tummy in the middle. It is a wonderful disease, guaranteed to attack you at just the wrong moment. He has bought me a present, and told me to look for patterns for over-coats. This thrilled me to the core. Am dying to see what it is, the stuff. It is the one thing I need. I didn't dare ask you to send  me one as they are so precious now, and I can't manage without a coat here in the winter.

     I had quite a pleasant week-end. Stan and Mimi and Alan took me under their wing. I had dinner at the flat on Saturday night. We had the most divine curry. Hassan makes it so well, nuts and raisins and all the other oddments. I maddened Stan and Mimi by eating it neat without turning a hair or sweating. Not liking rice! It was a really hot one too, I could only just do and look like an ice chest. Were going to have another one next Saturday for Donald, and me. With bananas.  (sorry to make your mouth water!) But I do love curry, and I never seem to be able to get it hot enough in England. Secret, lots of chilli powder, Then we went down to the  R.A.F. club and danced as usual. Joy there no Americans.

<censored>.  (sorry) On Sunday, I went down and had lunch at the Helio Sporting Club and bathed, and watched lots of small children swimming marvellously. Shrimps of about 6 and 7 diving away like mad from the 3 metre board. Also a diving display. I got burnt again. My shoulder straps hurt a little. However the cream of the afternoon was me at the top of a pyramid of four people being walked slowly down the bath. Needless to say I fell headlong after the first few steps and then everyone else followed! Incidentally there were some Turkish air force officers at the R.A.F. club. V. interesting, and spoke good English.

     Hurray signs of the last person coming in and so I can go to bed. I will finish this in the morning. It amuses me so much. When I throw this in to be censored at the office, I am always ticked off by the duty officer for using an office typewriter, then at the end I point out that I possess one of my own!

21:IX:'43  Went to the Musky yesterday afternoon with Marion and one or two other bods, with Mr Safe, an Egyptian Marion knows. A Sailor. Quite a nice man and v. kind. He flew me once in a tiger moth. It was most entertaining watching him subdue all the wogs with ??? We wanted to go into the big mosque in the middle,  but women weren't allowed in. He is just going to fly some Moslem students to Mecca. I was most interested, apparently no non Moslems are allowed into that part of Arabia at all. How he manages I don’t know as he doesn’t appear to be a Mohammedan. I would love to go. But I suppose it is more bug ridden than Cairo. Alan said it was so divine to get back to B'ham and just go to bed and sit in an armchair without getting up dismally to see the worst. He apparently is the honeypot type!

  How disappointing I hoped there would be some mail this am and there isn't. None had come in. But I know the moment I post this there will be.

    Lots of love. Will write again on Thursday ad Friday as usual. Longing for he weekend. Donald comes down for 2 nights.  R.


                          23:IX:'43.

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy, have just had a letter from both of you which is lovely, Mummy, don't worry I am quite all right financially, I have got a credit here in my bank or £57 Egyptian. I.e. about 57 10 English. Then Donald has 20 or 30 in a separate account in Ismailia, quite apart from his pay. He has also saved about 200 £ in England which I think is truly remarkable. We don’t wish to touch that at all except in event of offspring till after the war. A third of his pay is paid into his bank in England also his extra Flight Lieut's pay.

   The only thing that worries me out here is  the frightful price of everything. The bare necessities I mean, for example I have now run out of toothpaste for the first time since I arrived as I brought a fair amount. Well I know I have got to pay 20 or maybe 15 p.t. for it, that is 3 or 4/- for an ordinary shilling size. Tooth brushes are also 20 p.t.  (4/-). Reels of cotton, the threepenny size, 9d to 1/-. Oddly enough the only things that are not more than about double the price they should be are food and drink, as they are controlled. By that I mean actual table d'hôte meals. Lunch is 5/- and dinner 6/-. Then there are sort of cover charges periodically. Coffee at the cheapest is rarely less than 71d.  cakes 3d. to 71d. etc. tea 71d. (3p.t.) The only thing to do is what everyone adopts. You buy what you want very much and don't think about the price, and just do without when you haven't got any money.  Policy adopted from the highest to the lowest. Oh, here is a good example, tea, is mostly unprocurable except by N.A.A.F.I., and in restaurants and is sold on the Black Bourse at £3 a kilo. (about 2¼lbs). This all sounds grim I suppose. Sorry! But we manage, on the system I told you. It is no use thinking about toothpaste being that price when you clean your teeth! Incidentally, that is the one thing I should be v. grateful for if it is still gettable in England.

    So glad to hear that you had a pleasant week-end in London.  I would love to have seen Arsenic and Old Lace. The one thing I do want to see is Noel Coward's two new plays. How dreadful about Tony Willcock and Angus Robertson, I didn’t know. I am sorry. One of the A.T.S. out here I know quite well's brother is missing over Germany. Fancy Muriel Fellows being an A.T.S. major, the prospect appals me!

   I sent you off a parcel this morning. Dried fruit icing  sugar, turkish delight and two pairs of shoes for Carol Ann. I am so cross that the first one I sent from here about three weeks after we landed didn't arrive as it was all dried fruit. I have only sent one since then a part from to-day, which you should be getting  about now I think. I do hope the shoes will be more or less the right size. I am rather ignorant.

    How lovely having two new pearls Mummy. Yes I am having them! You know you have brought me up so like this, that the other day, I bought Donald a lovely silver plate, Turkish, for his birthday, and thought, I can't see quite at the moment, how we shall ever have enough money to eat soufflés off silver plate, but our children might I suppose! I was appalled when I caught myself doing it! Everyone at the office was so horrid when I walked in carrying one of those blue vases like our cocktail ones, for our room, and this silver plate, and asked how Donald was going to carry it around the M.E.

    I am going to see George Formby to-night, he is doing a show at the place where I work, I very rarely go to the ENSA things they have, but I shall tonight. For once I shall feel quite like a troop of some sort away from England I suppose! Mostly I merely feel irritated with the country and that I can't get home, but not very far from home, and of course with the A.T.S. more than irritated. Sorry this is such a dreary letter, I am not feeling at all dreary. Rather pleased in fact. Had lots of letters in the last few days, Donald is coming up for the week-end, and I have £3 more pounds than I thought I had. But I thought you would probably like to know how we were off financially. It is such a dreary subject.

    I am just finishing the toe of Donald's sock, and now I am going to make a skirt for Sheelagh, she and Jean are having  a fortnight's leave in a fortnight, and are going to Alex. I am. v. jealous. Donald and I hope to have another week in about November. I just long to go away, if only for 48 hours. Still the others haven't had any leave at all yet, and we had a week in May.

    Must go and have a bath, or rather a shower, and put on a clean shirt, I am all hot and sticky. I usually do have one before tea, it does get sticky in the afternoon, particularly if I go to sleep.

    How nice of Uncle Cyril to give me some books. Longing to get them,.

    I forgot to tell you I had my photo taken last week, but as usual it was too awful. I don't know whether to bother to have any prints done or not. Will show them to Donald and see what he says. It is maddening. I always glare or leer at cameras, apparently.

Well lots. And lots of love.

 
     No 36. It really is! Sorry, I always forget to number them!

                      27:IX:'43.

 

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        No mail to answer since I last wrote to you on Friday, though I had the Times of August 4th. yesterday, and we did the Xword this morning at work as there wasn't much to do. We are very slack at the moment, quite why I don't know.

    Donald came up about 4-0 on Saturday,  having got a very good lift in a staff car, and made it in two hours. so we went down to the Home Made Cakes and had tea, then made maddeningly I had to go to work at 5-30, and Donald went off to the flat and had a shower. I managed to get off at 7-0, and went along to have a shower and change. We had just settled down to have a drink before dinner when Stanley and Mimi and the other two arrived. Lovely dinner, masses of curry. Then we went down to the R.A.F. club and danced a bit. It was indoors for the first time. It did seem odd, I haven't danced indoors since last winter at home, and I don't think I did then much. It is quit cool at night now. I have a blanket. But still very hot in the middle of the day, more like English hot weather now. We had a nice long morning in bed, and laughed at Stan and Alan and Harry all having to go to some church parade for the Battle of Britain or something 9-0. Then Donald and I went to see some friend of Donald's, an army type, who has had scarlet fever, he had a temp of 108.5 for 48 hours and emerged blind deaf and dumb. They don't know what in the hell happened. He is much better now, but his sight will never recover properly they are afraid. His speech is badly slurred and he shakes most frightfully. It is ghastly. Still he has only been ill for five weeks. Pathetic, he only got married just before he left England too. His brother is fortunately at Ismailia too. Then we went to the club, sporting, and joined the others and had lunch. We had just finished a very late tea, when a familiar figure walked down the middle of the room, Otis again! That day, about 1-50, he had heard that a plane was going down to Cairo at 2-30, so he wrote himself a very quick movement order, and jumped on it. He has come down to see his colonel as he wants to change his job and get some promotion. Then Stanley took Donald back as usual this morning.

    Donald had a heavenly time in Syria. He said he didn't think he had told you about it when he wrote last week. He saw all sorts of things, in the ruins line, and was terrifically impressed by the Lebanon Mts. Also by Baalbec and the water wheel at Homs. Otis seems to be the uncrowned king of the region too which made it a lot easier. He went up by car too from Haifa to Aleppo. He has bought me 6 metres of the most beautiful very dark brown genuine camel hair cloth. It has  the most terrific sheen on it. It is lovely stuff. He is going to have a skirt made of part of it. You would be very jealous, Mummy. I am going to have a coat made of it with a very wide flared swinging skirt and high buttons. It will be lovely. I believe it is terribly warm and quite wind proof. It feels as it would be and waterproof too. We are going to try and go up there for a fortnight over Xmas. It would be absolutely heavenly. Donald thinks it would be lovely to be

really cold! God it would be fun. I should so love to go up there. I sounded people vaguely about leave to-day, and they seemed to think would be o.k. provided of course we were still here then.

    You remember told you I had my photograph taken about a week ago, and didn't like the proofs at all, well Donald seems to like them, so I feel cheered and am having some done and will forward them to you as soon as they are ready at the end of the week.

   I felt very drear this morning. The usual Monday morning feeling, and so this afternoon I took myself down to the club, and it was so peaceful and pleasant, and hardly anyone there. I bathed and then lay in the sun and read. Mimi turned up about 3-0-, and talked to me, and then we had a quiet tea and I came back to work. It was nice and un-A.T.S. like.

     Don't think there is  any more to tell you at the moment. I am rather tired  and think I will go to bed.

           Lots and lots of love,

 


List of Friends

A.T.S.

Jean Macalister.  Girl with whom I shared a room, and shared a cabin with on the first ship. Was an out student at Newnham, and is now a Mus. Bac. (Bachelor of Music.) Lives in Cambridge.

 

Sheelagh Foster Smith. Girton. Read English. Lives in Southend (of all places!) Father doctor. Shared room in Eng.

 

Madelaine Bishop. Was up at Somerville, Oxford, and lives in London. Now engaged to a Major. Read History.

 

I spend most of my time with these three.

 

Rufus Layton. One year at Newnham, reading economics. Father Sir Walter Layton. Aged 20. Shared room in Rhonnda House. Was at Roedean for a year.

Lindsay Hope. One year at Girton reading economics. Was at Cheltenham. Shared a cabin on the second and a room in Durban, also in Rhonnda.

 

These are all the people I am likely to mention who came out with me and whom I was with in  England. There are others but I am not particularly interested in them or friendly with them.

   Then there are a lot of people with whom I have subsequently become friendly, whom I met the first time in London. They are all great friends, and are collectively known as the Lance Cpls. as they all are.

 

Marion Thurston. (nee Holloway.) Married at the beginning of July to a man who now lives in Wolverhampton. He was at Bartlett School of Architecture, evacuated to Cambridge. Donald knew him slightly. He is now in North Africa. She was at London evacuated to Cambridge. She knows Pam Winter's (Lawnside) husband, who is her husband's C.O.

Mary Robinson. London.

Pauline Cockcroft. London.

Margot Lamigean. Quarter French. R.C. London. Evacuated to Bangor.                  

Betty Hogarth. . No degree! Lived in France till war broke out. Father now retired was in the Indian Political.

Sherry Mecaleese,  an admin Cpl. who joined us in London, and who also got married out here, and is now at home, at least I trust she is, and having a baby.

 

R.A.F. Friends of Donald and mine.

Stanley Grant. a regular Wing Co. with whom Donald was at school, and with whom he shared a study, was in Malta for a year and is a D.F.C. and bar. Has a  flat here where we stay at week-ends.

Alan Cooper. Squadron leader sharing Stan's flat. Lives in Edgbaston, and sells diamonds. is 38.

Harry Matheson. Second Sq./Ldr. in the flat. In peace time in Imperial Airways. Much older 42.

I don’t think that I talk about anyone else by name, I endeavour not too, knowing how mixed you get!


 

Odd Bodies

Leslie Pares. Civilian here, at Bredenbury. Just married a RAF officer stationed in the same place as Donald. Very nice.[i]

 

Mimi Zacki. A half Egyptian girl friend of Stan's. Mother English. Very nice. Lived in England.

Mrs Player. ATS Captain. A silly woman but nice.

 

I think that these are all the people I am likely to mention by name. I don’t talk about the ATS I expect, because all the time I spend with them I am just doing the ordinary dull things like eating foul meals and sleeping, and they don’t require any comment! I like all the people I have told you about very much but will be incredibly glad to get away from them for a week or two. After all we have now all lived together, very much on top of each other without any break for 9 months. But we get on together very well on the whole. Though my ambition is to live by myself again! Of course I go down to the village with them, and for instance last night I went to dinner and a flic in Cairo with Jean and Sheelagh. But I never think you would be very interested to hear about films! And the like!

 

This is in answer to your letter of 22:IX:'43 No 25 Daddy.

 

29:IX:'43  No 37.

 

 


No 38          2:X:'43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

         I am afraid I have been rather bad this week and have not written to you as I usually do on Thursday or Friday. Haven't had any mail from you Mummy, but I have had one from you Daddy, dated 22 I think. Pretty good. I have answered yours really by ordinary mail Daddy, i.e. I have typed you a list and short biography of all the people I talk about. I hope you will get it soon, and be able to read my letters better! I am so sorry, I do try to keep the names down as much as possible, but I so have to mention quite a few. Re your other query, Donald doesn’t get leave to come down and see me, he merely has a day off a week as all the RAF do, and come sown the night before once a fortnight, and goes back early in the morning on the Monday, so that he is not more than half an hour, at the most, late for work. He is away as usual at the moment. And there has been a horrid sandstorm blowing for the last two days. I am rather worried, and hope to heaven he won't take off till it has blown itself out. There are so many accidents in them, people getting lost and the like. It is vile here at present. Sand everywhere. But much worse in the real desert I am sure.

    Otis has been here all this week, so I have been out to dinner with him two nights this week, which has been very pleasant. He is flying back to Aleppo this morning. He is getting a new job, and will be a Lt. Col., which is good. He will be on the continent though, which is a pity. Sorry Daddy, once again I can't tell you what it is. I know this is very annoying, but if I do, Donald will only cross it out. Or the base censor. Ditto Donald's job. I know it is maddening, but there it is. The censorship is so much stricter this end, than from England.

     I have taken to going down to swim in the afternoons now at the Heliopolis sporting club. It makes a very pleasant change, and it is not very full in the middle of the week, Mimi is always there, and sometimes Stanley and the other inhabitants of the flat. I forget I am and ATS for the afternoon. Jean and Sheelagh are going on leave in ten days anyway, so I shall have to find somewhere to go as I shall be very lost. They are going to Alex for a fortnight. Lovely for them. You will have to look up in the index for the names when it arrives.

    Incidentally I am also sending you some photographs today, if I can find a nice strong envelope, which I have just had taken. There are four. Could you give one to Nanny and Bunch if they want one. They are the ones, that I would have torn up, because I think they are lousy, but Donald seems to think that they might be a lot worse. So I am sending them after all.

      The head ATS is coming to inspect our billet for the second time in about 6 weeks, which means clearing the whole place out, and so on. Adding insult to injury, she is apparently going to watch us eat. Well I personally don’t intend to make and exhibition of myself so I shall go down to the club, and have ham and eggs in a bathing suit by the pool. Though if this sandstorm doesn’t drop a bit I shall have to have it indoors.

      I don’t quite know what else there is to tell you. I am typing this like mad in break on one of the office machines, against all orders, thus the bad ribbon[33]. I have quite a good one in mine, pinched from here of course!

     Mummy could you tell Bunch the parcel of stuff she sent me that I asked for at the beginning of August arrived quite safely yesterday. I will thank her in my next. Am so looking forward to her photographs. Please could you possible send Donald one of that drawing of me, the ones he has got are beyond measure awful. I sent him one at the beginning of Jan. It evidently got lost on the way. Incidentally the first parcel I sent you from here may still be all right, as we are notified of lost mail, Donald says that batch is reported late but not lost.

    How lovely it would be to be at home, oh I do hope it won't be too long.

                  Lots of love.

Same day 7.0 pm. Khamsin is still blowing. Thought you might be interested, Daddy, he Temp last night was 85, and tonight, now it is 104°F!! Oct 2.


No 39.  I weigh 8st 8lbs[34] in poplin shirt drill skirt and shoes. About 2 lbs in weight. Pretty good!

    

                4:X:'43

 

Darling Mummy and Daddy

             Had such a pleasant weekend after all. I was lying in a deck chair down at the club on Sunday, just having finished my lunch, when Donald appeared. He had some business to do at Middle East, and also had to bring some instrument down there, and some came in a truck. He left early this morning. Monday. Poor thing he wasn’t feeling very well. He had a dose of gippy tummy in Aleppo a fortnight ago, and doesn’t seem to have recovered. No appetite. Still he seemed better this a.m. and is seeing the M.O. He has just been up to Benghazi, and had rather a bad time coming  back in a sandstorm. All the electricity packed in, and therefore they couldn’t alter the pitch of the airscrews etc, and had to fly along the road about 50 ft up all the way back. And the visibility wasn’t so hot. I was very worried about him coming back in this weather, and so was terribly relieved to see him. So we had a very quiet evening and went to bed early. I think it is partly the food he has, they have a rotten mess, the Wog cooks just fry everything. The weather has been incredible the last few days, we were all just thinking that at last autumn was coming, and then bang. We have had sandstorms and the like, and yesterday was the hottest day of the years with 110.6°F. Nice Daddy? At present everyone spends a lot of time arguing about the temp! Oddly enough this spot of heat has not made me feel nearly as lousy as it did earlier on in the year. I go down to the pool every afternoon, and lie in a bathing suit and bathe and have tea and then go to work at 5-0. The humidity is very high which makes it tiring, one is always wet, my face just drips.

       I was talking to Donald about sending you an Xmas cake. He thinks it is an excellent idea, and that he could get a tin made, that is the main trouble, because tins are unobtainable in this country. The other one is that one is not allowed to send more than 2 lbs of any one foodstuff, or more than 5 lbs in weight. Still skip it. So I will send one off in a week or three. 4 lbs in weight. Don’t know how big that is.

     Otis has gone back to Aleppo, he went off on Saturday night, and came over here and took me out to dinner on Friday night. He may be coming down here on a course soon, which will be nice.

     I do hope you will be able to read this, the electric light is so bad anyway I can't see, and there seems to be no ink left on this ribbon.

     I just can't get over how kind Stanley, Alan and Harry are to us, I mean Donald arrived down on Sunday afternoon, and so when we all went back to the flat at about 7-30, the suffragis just moved Stan's bedding into Harry's room as he has two beds, and left Donald and me Stan's. We away stay there now, and feed quite a lot too, the only thing we can do in return is to take them a bottle of gin or something. And they are always asking me to dinner in the week when Donald isn't there. So I mend socks! I believe the Maitlands were good to Stan when he was young though. He lived with an aunt next door to them and is an orphan.


No mail for ages, there seems to be a hold up somewhere. Though I did have a letter from B. yesterday. Written 23. But there has been practically none in for anyone.

   I have at long last discovered the name of the blue trees which come out here in the spring before the flamboyants, they are jacarandas. They are delicious.

  Am going to have a quiet evening this p.m. It is terribly hot still though not as bad as last night. Tomorrow Jean and Sheelagh and I think we would go to a flic.

  How is Beata? Fat and well as ever I trust. I am sure that now I have written to you I shall get lots of letters by the 7-30 post this p.m. I often do. Though

one just never knows when what mail comes in from here. How odd it must have been abroad when one did.

   No more news.

   I sent off the photographs ordinary mail yesterday 

      Lots and lots of love. R.

 

I forgot to say what I told you all about temp. Daddy is because in your last letter you said  you had at home 9° of frost on the ground! Contrast is terrific! 110° in the shade here!

 


No 40.

                       8:X:'43

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

  No mail from you for ages which is horrid. I haven't heard from you Mummy for over a fortnight, not your fault of course, but dreary. Poor old Donald is in ed at the moment, I don’t know what it is, he has had an upset tummy ever since he was in Aleppo and hasn’t been feeling too well, and last weekend, as I told upi when he came down he was feeling terrible. He went back a little better and then had to drive this 3 ton truck, and a very bouncy one at that 80 miles or so, and it wore him out. Apparently his tummy has been upset by his temperature and not vice versa. However I am going to hitch down tomorrow afternoon and see him. I spoke to him on the phone last night, and he wasn’t dying! I just don’t like him being ill and me not being there. Still I haven't seen the place were he is yet, and I shall enjoy doing that. I am going to spend the night at the YWCA in Ismailia I think. I believe it is very nice. I can never get over this out here, as in England I always imagine them as dim religious places in the slums. There only difference from hotel out here is that there are not licensed, and they are on the whole nicer, and infinitely cheaper.

    I am going into Cairo tonight to have dinner it is Sheelagh's 23rd birthday. Very young! I am quite a grandmother, and always feel years older in every way. Than everyone I mean. Must send Bunch and Peter and EFM tomorrow I think for their wedding anniversary. It is amazing to think we have been married for two years in a month. I remember our first one so well, I was on evenings, and wept bitterly all by myself! Very pathetic! At the Park I mean.

     There is very little to tell you since I last wrote, I have bathed a few times, and done nothing else. I didn’t bathe this afternoon, but went and had my hair washed as it was filthy from bathing twice an afternoon without a cap on. One's hair gets dry in about 20 minutes or so out here, it is quite incredible. I lost my cap when Donald and I fell in the water in Alex, and they are difficult to buy, and anyway there is little point as everyone's main object on seeing me in the water is to torpedo me as quick as they can, and a cap always comes off then. All these people are such marvellous swimmers and play about for hours under the water. Donald is of course very good too.

    Could you tell Bunch that I wrote her an air mail letter this week as I am short of letter cards! Only being issued with one a week. Laugh that one off! I am so glad I had a marvellous parcel of magazines from you this week. One article in Punch I especially appreciated about books in an officers mess out here, where they had three. We are all in much the same state, and Jean and Sheelagh and I read the same books in succession, and talk about them a good part of the time we are not reading them. I have now broken away by joining the library. Am reading Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt at the moment, it is a pity nothing remains at Heliopolis. One thing I have a little trouble with Jean and Sheelagh with is that they are very fond of the Americans, and I am becoming so that I can't even stand the sight of one. (My Ma in law's nationality in case they censor that bit.) Pleased Daddy? Goodnight for now.

9th Have just had an EFM from you to say that a parcel has arrived thank you very much. Glad to know you are OK too as the mail is so bad at the minute. I suppose it is the parcel with the stockings in it which I sent at the beginning of August I fancy, two months is not too bad. The wire had as usual Godsall on it, they never seem to be able to get the correct spelling!

    Had such a nice dinner last night at a Greek restaurant where we often go, quite cheap and uncrowded.  Mixed grill and lamb chop, kidneys, liver, sweetbreads and liver, and the loveliest green beans, And Vin ordinaire. Beautifully cooked. Not potatoes, they are about 3/- a lb! I should love a potato, and every paper you send me is eat potatoes, and all the troops die for them. Hate sweet potatoes! A man I was talking to  yesterday at the pool went to Cyprus and brought back a sack as everyone assured him that they would be much more welcome that wine! And were more expensive in Egypt! He has a flat, a friend of Stanley's. Also Harry, one of the Squadron Leaders in the flat where we stay brought a case of apples from Palestine the other day by air, and I have eaten masses in the flat, and casually asked the price in the fruit stall last night, and they were 3/- a lb! Beautiful apples they were too, but 8/-...

Lots of love R.


No 41.

                                10:X:'43

   Darling Mummy and Daddy, excuse me if my typing is bad, I am very tired. It is Sunday, and yesterday I hitched down to Ismailia to see Donald who is in sick bay at the aerodrome. I left here at 12-O and got quite easily there by 3-30, and then had to wait for transport to pick me up at the YWCA, as the place is some way out of Ismailia, and quite difficult to get to. It is a vile place, real desert, and all tents, except the sick quarters, which are horrid. Donald was better, thank goodness, he has been in bed running a temperature for a week,

heaven only knows why, and probably had been for some time before he

went to bed. But they are feeding him on the newer edition of M. and B. and he is o.k. but has lost a lot of weight and is very weak. The food is so grim, and he isn't allowed to eat eggs, and they are the only things he could. His last meal is at 4-30 p.m.  As there is no cookhouse  in the sick quarters. I went back into Ismailia just before 8-0 with some people who were going in, and they took me to the french Club, which is rather nice, I nearly got thrown out as an other rank, but two of the RAF people took off one stripe each and handed them over, so I became a WAAF officer, with the full connivance of  the management, for the evening! I spent the night at the WY and then took a taxi out the next a.m. at 9-0 or so. I get up awfully early in this ghastly country! Donald was a lot better this a.m. I saw the M.0. and he said that he could give him a few days sick leave to go somewhere and get some decent food, and feel normal again. So he will be coming up here at the end of the week, after he has got up, and seen that the whole place hasn't blown up without him. I think it is so sensible because it takes such ages to get over anything here, because immediately you get up they  generally think that you can go back to work, and live a normal life. Must tell you this, of course the worst happened during the morning, I thought I had go the cloakroom, complete chaos, because I never thought but there was no such thing, there being no women at all ever. This I did realise, but, of course, being tents, there was nothing but various tin erections, and no drainage! Well the M.0. finally worked it, and I felt extremely sheepish, but I couldn't help it! He evidently  bore me no malice, because he rang up half an hour afterwards, and asked me to lunch in their mess. A nice little place, very comfortable seats, which they seem to have in all RAF messes, built out of old shell case cardboard things. It is bad luck, Donald belong to another unit on the same station, which has a horrid mess. It amuses me so much being invited to lunch and dinner and things in these messes as a Cpl! It is a great relief. Just to be nice too, we had a sandstorm at lunch time. I hitched back again this afternoon, they took me as far as Ismailia, and I was back here in 21 hours. I am very glad that I went down, Donald was so depressed, and the tablets make him worse, and he did seem  better for it. He was in a room by himself, so it was all quite easy. It was funny being danced with too all the time last night, Donald never will, and when I told him how noble his friends had been this morning he said, well poor things I expect that they thoroughly enjoyed having someone to dance with! There was one charming child of 20 with the D.F.C! Malta.


 

 It is a priceless area the canal zone, they all run trucks, the units in the district I mean, 30 miles or so for people to go down to the canal and bathe after lunch and come back at 10 or so. Everyone goes the most fantastic distances for no reason at all without thinking. There is nothing to do you see for all the people stationed not quite in any place between Cairo and the canal and those sort of places. And everybody hitches everywhere. There are special W.D. hitch points. It must seem quite mad to you at home!

    Don't think  there is, any more to tell you, I did thank you for the cable I think. I presume it was the parcel with stockings and things you got. Do hope that I shall get some mail to-morrow.

      It will be lovely having Donald here for sick leave. Oh dear, he is upset about the food, you know how much he likes it, he now just lies in bed and thinks of all the delicacies he would like! It is terrible being ill in this country.

         Lots and lots of love,

 

In pencil;

11:X:'43 just had your letter of the 28, thank you answering a few questions. Glad you those baby photos. The others of me were sent off last week. I sent one parcel in May of food (sunk) one with stockings at the beginning of August, and one about 3 weeks ago of food. Donald had lost 11 stone in weight and I should think about 7 lbs in the last week in bed. I have put on about 7 lbs. There is nothing I want really thanks. Am grateful for all magazines will love Cecil Beaton book. I am applying for a fortnights leave to ??? over Xmas. We will go right up to Aleppo, through Jerusalem, and the Lebanon. We are going to start saving madly! Donald loved it up there. He wrote to you about a month ago I know. But the post has been shocking lately. Lots of love again


No 41.

                            16:X:'43

My darling Mummy and Daddy, Isn't it lovely Donald is up here for four days on sick leave. He arrived on Thursday at lunch and is staying till Monday morning. I have managed to get sleeping out passes all right all against orders. Mrs Player is very decent about that sort of thing. Poor Donald is very thin, and run down, but is getting better now, he has lost two stone since he came out here, contrary to nearly everyone else who put it on. We are staying at the flat as usual. I am having to work all the time, which feels very odd, going off I the morning, leaving Donald wandering about in a dressing gown. Horrid. I am however having tonight and tomorrow off. Fri Sat and Sunday. We haven't done anything at all since he came up, been down to the pool at the Sporting Club in the afternoon, and that is all. Today, we are going into Cairo for lunch and then to a flic, and finally having a large party on the Continental Roof Garden. You will never guess what we are going to do tomorrow, going to see the Pyramids! At long last we have a day off. We are going with a friend of Donald's who knows all about it. It should be very interesting.

     Thank you Daddy, I have just had the Times of Sept 1st. We will do the cross word in the Metro on the way into Cairo at lunch time. Gosh it is lovely having Donald for four days, I can't get over it. We never do seem to spend more than about 5 minutes together. Though I know we are very lucky being only 100 miles apart.

     It was very interesting last night, a friend of Stanley's turned up from Merriall's country, and told us a lot of what was going on over there. He was in an awful mess. A Group Capt. DSO and DFC and bar, aged about 27 I should think, and he was a nervous wreck. A fighter pilot. I do wish I could tell you all the stuff he told us, but I just can't, censor! I have never met anyone quite so dead beat. I have met him before, but as usual had forgotten him. It is always the same out here, people remember me as there are so few women, and I can't cope with all the odd bodies I meet for one meal with Donald or at the flat.

      Sheelagh and Jean are now on leave, and Madeleine is away, and Margot and Betty are on leave, so I am quite lost at the billet, it is lucky Donald came down.

   Well I shall stop this for now, and finish it later.

 

Handwritten: Sorry this letter just didn’t seem to work so I wrote you another one.

 

Lots and lots of love, R.


No 42

 

In pencil: 43, Sorry I sent two no 41's  I'm hopeless.

                        19:X:'43.

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                I feel an awful stinker I haven't written to you for a week, and I always reckon to write twice a week, I had better do a bit of explaining. I was very worried about Donald most of last week, as I left him all right on the Sunday when I came beck here, and then his temperature went up again, and for Donald to run a temperature is unheard of almost, especially for about a fortnight. Well I rang up nearly every night, and then he suddenly came down here on Thursday lunch time on sick leave. I didn't expect him till the week-end, and so had made no plans at all. Mrs P. was very nice when I went and asked for all of those nights off and gave me them in a clandestine manner as I am not allowed, them really. As usual we stayed at the flat. Donald was agonisingly thin, but has gone up a bit again while he was here and will I hope soon get a bit fatter. A lovely squash at the tint. On Friday or was it Thursday a great friend of Stanley's turned  up from Merriall's home as I think I told you, and insisted on staying in the flat too. This was all a bit complicated. There are three decent single bedrooms, bigger than the Manor Ho.'s a  little I think. Donald and I were as usual in Stanley's, and Alan and Harry, had their own. Stanley has taken to sleeping on the balcony. So we whistled up Brian a camp bed there too.

   The queue for the one bathroom in the morning was terrific, fortunately Alan and Harry begin work at 8-0, Stanley at 8-15, and I at 8-30 so we had it and breakfast in relays, with Donald and Brian in dressing gowns, looking horrid and holiday like. Of course Mummy the servant question just doesn't enter into it here, you tell them you will have breakfast now, and you do! We didn't do anything at all on Friday except go down to the pool, and sunbathe. On Saturday I took the afternoon off and Donald and I went into the big city and had lunch with a charming friend of his, with whom he used to be stationed. I find that Donald, now knows everyone nearly in the R.A.F. Middle East! The best lunch I have had out here, lovely roast pork and stuffed cabbage. The latter is just coming into season and we just gobbled it up also kidneys, stewed with rice, Donald insisted on eating all my rice, and so after this gargantuan repast in the heat we all staggered to a flic and ate peanuts. We had a box to go to sleep a little better  (Donald's sick leave was given him mostly so that he would get some decent food, his own is shocking.) Then Donald and I caught the Metro back to Helio. changed and foregathered for a gigantic party at the Continental Roof Garden. Stanley and Mimi a nice WAAF girl friend of Alan's (whom I saw at work this evening!) and Brian and a couple of other R.A.F. officers. Brian and Donald an I came home    before the others about 1-0 I should think, and were rather hungry and so we hunted around and found a bowl of curry in the ice-box and some cold rice, we bunged it all in the saucepan and lit the primus and had curry! at about 1-0 or so! (I had Sunday off!). I fear a little bibliography is needed. Stanley Alan and Harry I do feel you ought to know by now. The three owners of the flat, Stanley being the one who was at Charterhouse. Mimi is the nice half Egyptian girl I see  every day nearly bathing, Brian was a Cranwell friend of Stan's, aged 26, Group  Capt. (=full Col!!) D.S.O. and bar and has been in everything. I have at long last got used to all the children wing commanders with all their decorations but a G/C ... Brian is a dear, and always refers to himself as that Handsome Young Group Capt. as everytime he crashes he falls on his face, it is just one big scar and held together by bits of wire. The latest effort in the Disaster line was falling  out of a jeep.

    The biggest thing of all was during elevenses at the Club on Sunday morning, Donald suddenly said there's Gerry, and it was. You remember the man he was so friendly with at Cambridge who punted you so beautifully. We haven't seen him since then. Isn't it lovely ? He is such a dear, and is stationed about half a mile from here:. He was part of the glorious 8th Army and went all the way up, but got wounded and dysentery and so is not in Italy. Donald went and bought an enormous leg of lamb and Gerry and all of us had dinner in the flat. We had a quiet day on Monday, I worked and then Donald went this morning. I am thus feeling very drab and lonely as anyway all my chums are on leave. Donald is anyway a lot better, and will be up for the week-end as usual, on Saturday week. 

    I was greatly cheered to have no less than five letters you to-day. Two from you Mummy, one from you Daddy, and one from Bunch. All dated 9 and 10 Oct. Am so glad that you got both parcels. There are two on the way now. One photographs and one food and the child's shoes. Bunch said  that Carol Ann had a bad cold how pathetic, poor little thing. I hope she is all right now. Oh I had two Times too, thank you Daddy. What a plethora of weddings there do seem to be. Teddy Maslen Jones would go and do something silly. Oh I think  that magazines take about 6 week, though that is a guess as I can't read the date on the postmark, I guess  about 14 days or so after the date of the last Punch! Right? Will tell Donald about the money. You don’t know how jealous I am of the ordinary roast beef and I trust  horseradish, cooked the Manor Ho, way, not Egyptian! And real comfort etc. We both are, poor Donald got very depressed when he was ill. Longed for home. I do hope that you will get down to Bournemouth next month. I am sure the change   would do you both good. Poor Daddy the H.G. must be depressing at present. Will tell you more about our plans to go to Syria and Palestine at Xmas in my next.  Well I don't think there is any more room, thank you in hope for more toothpaste!

Lots and Lots of love R.


                               21.X.'43

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

             I only wrote to you about two days ago, but I didn't say nearly all the things I wanted. I usually write on Fridays, but I am going to have a very busy time to-morrow. Most unwisely someone came and asked me the other day if I would go to a play reading, and now I have got involved in it acting a play. The Ghost Train. I at the moment have been cast as a young married woman, most appropriate, except that I haven't the remotest idea how to act! Still they will probably realise that before long, that though I may be able to read, I haven't  a as clue as far as acting is concerned. Then to-morrow evening I must ring Donald, I always do on Friday evenings.

    It is all right Mummy, you needn't worry about my undies, I treasure my nice ones like gold, and they are still very nearly as good as new but the others are in shreds! I always wash the others most carefully myself, and iron them, and only wear them at week-ends! The only trouble is that some of the white ones are going a bit yellow. I made a couple of pairs of camiknickers and a slip on the way up from Durban. And a nightie the first part of the way.

    We are at the moment working out ways and means for going unto Syria and Palestine for a fortnights leave at Xmas. The main trouble is getting there. One can take a train up to Haifa, but then to go any further you have to take a taxi to Beirut at £2 a head! We really want to see the whole of it while we are about it. Donald was more impressed with Aleppo than anywhere else he has seen in the Middle East and with the  ruined temples at Baalbec and the water wheel at Homs. The  train journey is so appalling so crowded and so expensive. Most of the troops hitch up there. But we are going on leave to be comfortable! What is the point of not being, on leave? We did contemplate going by Misr Airways, Egyptian, Donald was going to enquire, but I have found out that it is £30 return, so I don't think we shall be somehow! Isn't it ridiculous. We might get a lift with the R.A.F. as far as Haifa, if we were lucky. It is of course quite easy to get from there to Jerusalem. Stanley may come with us. We are also contemplating staying in Y.W.C.A.s, but I don't expect for a moment we will in the end, Donald's good resolutions like this never work! He is going to try and find out all about at this fortnight, and arrange something. I am so longing for it. I would love to see all these places, I believe the Lebanon is so beautiful, and I want to see oranges and lemons growing. Donald bought a 1000 from Palestine last  year for the troops dinner for a pound including transport!

      Do you know it is a bit cold tonight, I think I shall heat up some water on my stove and have a hottie. It would be lovely. Not really cold though, I am still sitting in a shirt and pants before the French windows, wide open! I can see myself bullying Wogs all over Syria and Palestine about a boiling hottie!

     I have ordered you an Xmas cake, I do hope that it will be all right and arrive safely. I have to collect it on Sat. The last date for sending stuff ordinary mail is November 12. I am afraid that there is awfully little that I can send you that is of any use, anything you would like costs the earth,

   I will write to Ma J about Eunice Mummy! You always said she could!

   No, there are no coupons for anything out here except tea, sugar, paraffin, and now I believe cooking oil. You can buy clothes if you can afford them. But there are very few, and quite unsuited to English weather, white crepe frocks and the like, lovely for out here, but no use at home. Same with shoes on the whole. Though I haven't been round the shops at all lately and winter stuff may have come in.

   Don't think that there is any more to tell you at the moment. I am going to bed I think.

          Lots and lots of Love R.


 

                                    26.X.'43.            M.E.^.

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

              No more mail from you since I last wrote but I will probably get some to-morrow. But I have had no less than three parcels of books. I do so appreciate them, you have no idea how exciting it is out here even to get a parcel, let alone the contents. I am so enjoying Andre Maurois book, I didn't even know he had written an autobiography. And then this morning, I had two parcels of magazines sent on August 28, taking rather longer than usual, one of Punch's and the other of Lilliput and various pamphlets, I haven't looked at any    of them. Save them up!

       I have been busy sending you things off for Xmas. I do hope that you will get them all right, I believe that they are saying all the mail to be delivered on Xmas day, so don't be worried if you don’t hear from me round about then. I have sent you a parcel of food an Xmas cake and some sweets, I am afraid that I am not sending you individual things as they are so madly expensive, the ones you would want, and anyway not very nice. I am afraid that they will save your birthday present till Xmas too Daddy, sorry.  They don't cater for birthday around then. They say too that all Xmas cards will be delivered on Xmas day. Tell me if they are.

      I am so mad all our lights have as usual fused. It dies make me mad. I loathe going to bed in the dark. It is so much more comfortable to read there too than any here else. They fuse for no good reason except wog workmanship about once in three weeks, and remain unmended for about four days.

     Donald is going up to Benghazi for a few days I believe this week, he hissed something over the phone at me when I rang up, I think that is what he said. He will be coming down as usual though on Saturday. I hope that I shall be able to take Saturday night off as I haven't had any time off for a fortnight. Since he was last down in fact.

     Jean and Sheelagh came back from their leave yesterday. I was glad to see them back really, though I do so much prefer having the room to myself. It was lovely. They went to Alex.

     I am afraid that there is practically nothing to tell you as I have not done a th1ng since Donald went, beyond go down to the Sporting Club in the afternoon, and have tea with Mimi and Stanley and other odd bodies including a very nice WRNS, an other rank, believe it or not, married to an RAF officer. And sundry off WAAF off1cers. All dumb but quite nice. It makes a very pleasant break.                      

    Donald has gone back to working winter hours now, I don’t know whether we ever do, I think it depends on GHQ. That it working in the afternoon instead of the evening. I don't know whether I want to or not. I think not on the whole, it is pleasant to have the afternoon off, in the day light. It gets dark so quickly when it tries, it is dark by 7-0, and soon we go back to ordinary time, I believe this weekend. From my working out an hour longer in bed. (probably wrong).

    The A.T.S are playing against the WAAF officers tomorrow, I have not been asked to play! Everyone seems to be hockey mad. It amuses me very much. The men are having soccer now in this heat, and can't play in the summer at home! It is getting cooler now though. I am wearing your jersey, the one you knitted Mummy.  I have been so glad of it. I have worn it a lot, both on the way here, and at the beginning of the summer. We have had our serge back. I haven't dared to try on the skirt, I can just do the tunic up if I let out the buttons a bit, but I fear for the skirt, it always was tight! I way 8 and a half stone in practically no clothes.

   Oh Mummy, I sent Aunt Gladys a box of Turkish Delight today, I do hope she will get it all right, also Joy, and Peggy's children and Merry. I am still hoping to get your handkerchiefs. The nuns have had the stuff since August, but have been in Alex, but have come back this week, and the girl who is having them done for me, an R.C. who goes to the convent for services, is seeing about them. I boil mine and do my best to keep them white, and am succeeding fairly well with my best ones. I am not using all of them.

 

 


No 46   30:X:'43

(photo-reproduced letter - airgram)

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

Have just had a marvellous amount of mail from you, a letter from all three of you yesterday of about 18 and one today from you Mummy of 22 in Bristol. I do hope you had a pleasant few days, Mrs Chippen is a marvellous old lady. I will try to get you a length of stuff if it is financially possible. Shall be going into Cairo next week. I am sorry I didn’t see Johnnie Webb when he was here. And then yesterday I had no less than three parcels of books. It is so lovely apart from anything else to see my shelf covered with nice looking books. One was the parcel of books from I think Uncle Cyril as his name was in one of them, and some old periodicals and my geographical magazine. Also Oriental Spotlight, which I think is a heavenly book, also some from Nanny, so I shall be well set up for weeks. Shall give Donald one or two today as he has nothing to read. I am sorry to have to write you and airgram, but I have no letter cards. They are difficult to come by. Sent your cake off this morning, latest date for posting to UK ordinary mail being Nov 12. I do hope it will arrive all right. I also sent a box of sweets to Nanny for her birthday and some stockings to Bunch. People are suggesting rudely that I make myself into a parcel agency for mail both incoming and outgoing. I shall answer your mail properly in my next letter card. Donald is coming up at lunch time today, he is doing business at Middle East this morning, name for GHQ. And will be here till Monday a.m. I have got Sat. night and the whole of Sunday off, which is lovely, as I haven't had any time off for a fortnight.

     We had an ATS party last night in the mess, officers. Quite pleasant, just for the men and officers we work with. Yes, Mrs Player is still with us, I don’t often see her as she only does admin. She is very nice to me when I do, approving of matrimony! It is very lucky for me she is the officer.

     Went to the Opera House in Cairo the other night with Marion and Lindsay and a couple of the RAF officers from here, to see the Cairo Amateur Dramatic Society do Maid of the Mountains. It was quite good. It is a nice little place of the period, was built for the opening of the Suez Canal, and is all gilt and plush, but nevertheless rather sweet and quite small. We had a box of chocolates, and did it properly, except for the uniforms!

      Will get Donald to initial this at lunch time, lots and lots of love.

 

[it was indeed signed by DS Maitland over a censor's stamp]


47

 

28:X:'43

 

My Darling Daddy,

 

I don't quite know when I shall post this, as it is to wish you many happy returns, but I just felt like writing it at the moment. I hope that you will get it somewhere near the right date. I am sending a copper plate, which I thought you might like for your H G desk or something, though I am afraid it will need cleaning. I like them though I am afraid that it is not really suitable for the manor house, and some Turkish Delight. Sorry there no Lind chocolates! I was talking to the sergeant I work with this morning about chocolate, and remembered and told him how you used to keep those horrid red packets in the pocket of the car. I admire him very much, he has risen from nothing, is very clever and competent, and is in the civil service. His family brought him up on £2 a week, or something. Of course before I came out here I had never even spoken to anyone like that! We were talking about that and education this am. He has risen so much and so wisely that  you can discuss things like that with him. He does not like so many people turn rabid communist and damn someone like us for having had money. He is contented. Poor Mac, I'm so sorry for him, he is unmarried and was telling today, that he will now never be able to marry, (he takes Lindsey had quite a lot) because he has associated now so long with University Women With brains, with whom one can discuss anything with at any rate a little logic, and he will never be able to go back to women of his own class with no education. But that it was worth knowing us all. It was a most interesting discussion I must say. I was telling him too how very much too  I admire you, you have made such a success of your life. I do you know really Daddy! I am so sorry that I can't please you out here, and do lots of things in the work line. It is just impossible from the army point of view. But I think probably that it is extremely good for me to associate a little with people like Mack, (though nearly all men are of a much higher class and education than he is.) and see their point of view. This is rather a pathetic story though, one of the men of the lower type again, said to me once, Romie what do I do if I see you out with your husband, do I call you Mrs Maitland or pretend I don't know you! I was struck dumb! Such a nice little man too. Oh dear what a peroration. But I thought you might be interested.

 

They make beautiful copper things are out here, did you ever see them? They plate them inside with something for cooking, lovely meat dishes, and water jugs, and that type of thing. Donald has longing to get some of them. You can get them in the Musky fairly reasonably. I am going on Monday afternoon to get your plate with Marion and Egyptian man she knows. It is so much better to go with someone like that, he can beat them down. Also he has a car. He is a nice man, in Misr (Egyptian Air ways,) he was a pilot in England for several years, and his wife is English. He is a Christian.

 

Don't think that there is anything else to tell you that the moment, I will leave this to the weekend for Donald to censor, I should think it might get you at some time the right time if I post it then. I am afraid that this letter will be a lot out of date by the time you get it Daddy.

 

Anyway I will think of you on your birthday at a lot. And thank you for being the nicest father I could have had.

 

Lots of love R
No 48.

            2:XI:'43

 

        My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

             Had a lovely week-end, Donald got down in the morning and we had lunch together on Saturday, and spent the rest of the week-end together. Didn't do anything much, Donald as usual had to go into  Middle East about something on Sunday morning, which took up most of the time. He nearly always does have to go into the R.A.F. H.Q. about something when he comes down. It is always a good idea to keep in with them anyway, and he says they always seem quite pleased to see him. He has a lot of chums there now. Donald is being very rude now about my tummy! You I know will be delighted to hear that I am getting so fat, he spent all the week-end telling me what a nice flat one I had once! As he is now such a slim young thing I am unable to reply in kind! I told you didn't I that I had met such a nice young couple she is an WRNS other rank and he is an M.O. in the RAF. She is quite one of the nicest females I have met for ages. We went out with them too on Saturday night. They have a flat here too. We like them so much apart from anything else as they are as broke as we are, or rather worse! That is the trouble of associating with Wing Co's and the like! Not that they are extravagant, or do things that we can't, but it is nice to feel that someone else is in the same boat as ourselves. We spent most of the weekend fixing about our leave. We went to the station to book wagon lit as it takes 24 hours, and were very shaken to find that apart from the fares being £5 return, the sleeper was £4. One way. Then a taxi to Beirut is £2 each, no rail. We reckoned that it would be £15 each in fares, so after a lot of talking we decided we would hitch. Privately Donald thinks that he wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a plane wasn’t going that way the day we wanted to go! The trouble is that you can't rely  on it. But if you stand, at the ferry across the canal in the early a.m. you are sure to pick up some truck going up to Haifa or thereabouts. I have applied for leave from 21 Dec. to 3 Jan. inclusive, and got it, and now have to sit and wait for the permit to go to Syria and Palestine to come through. Donald can write himself a movement order and have his C.0. sign it quite easily. I am so excited, about it already. We think that we will spend Xmas in Haifa, as Donald knows quite a lot of people there. And the R.A.F. always do you well. I shall be so miserable for you when I see all the citrus fruits growing.

    I have got a very busy week on. Today I went into Cairo to see Leslie, you remember her, she is the civilian girl whom I met who was at Bredenbury with me, and who has married a flying officer whom Donald knew, and who is now stationed with him. Poor child she has just got dysentery, for the second time. She is in hospital the other side of the Nile, takes hours to get there. It is quite nice though, she has quite a pleasant room. She was very pleased to see me. It is such a pity as they have a do on in their mess next Friday, and we were both going to hitch down together for the night. Now I shall have to go alone. Don’t  know how  they will manage this all out in the desert but still. Tomorrow I am going to the Musky with Mr. Safe and Marion, he is an Egyptian friend of hers. She is the Lance Cpl who got married recently. I like her so much. The most amazing thing Mummy. She married a boy called Jim Thurston. His father is a rubber (tea) planter in Malaya, and is now a civilian internee there. They moved to Penn or somewhere just before the war, and mow have a house somewhere near the Fellows old one near the West Park in Wolver. Mrs Thurston was apparently in a very bad state financially as all their money in Malay, and so took a job in the Food Office, she has now given that up and is designing hats for Miss Aldridge!! I don't know what she is like, but her son, Marion's husband is charming. Do look her ip. Get her to show you the photographs of the wedding, and you will see us in the background of nearly all of them. That photo of the drawing Suzzer did of me has at long last arrived. Donald is delighted with it, I don't think that there is anything much else to tell you at the moment, I haven't had any mail from you this week, I had such a bunch at the end of last. I am sorry I shall have to write you periodical airgraphs, as I haven't enough of these. Sorry. I am only allocated one a week!

     I am so glad that you have fixed to go to Branksome Towers next week. Daddy what's this, are you going to add biradesting?? to all your work?

     It’s all right Mummy, I don’t want any clothes sent out. I am frightened of losing them on the way. They are too precious. And I can't really get anything much out here reasonably suitable for English weather and type of clothing. It was so funny yesterday, I went into a large military tailors to take my camel hair to be made up, and I wrote my name for them on the bill, and the man who was telling me how much it would take etc, suddenly said "your husband is Fl Lt Maitland and your brother-in-law Major Maitland!" The owner of the shop, a Greek, they have a branch in Ismailia where Donald and Otis go. I cut a pattern out of the new vogue for them, and they are making it with some heavy silk lining for £6. Very flared skirt, and very high lapels, single breasted. I can't take double breasted I have decided.

   Well lots of love.

 

My next letter will come by an odd route, so don’t be surprised.


No 49

Recd 24 Nov.

3.XI.'43

 

Darling Mummy and Daddy,

    This letter is being posted in a rather peculiar way, the Captain in charge of us is going home for a few weeks, and he is taking letters and things home for us, they have to go somewhere to be censored first, and then he collects them and takes them on. I don’t know when you will get this, but I should be interested to know the date. I have just had such a pleasant afternoon, I went to the Musky with Marion and Mr Safe, he is an Egyptian she knows who is a pilot in Misr Airways, such a charming little man with an English wife. He speaks very good English. He took us in the car. I went and bought you a copper plate Daddy, I hope you like it, I am afraid it is not very exciting, but I couldn’t think of anything else you would like out here that I could send. It is for you birthday. I thought it might do for the H.G. as a fruit plate or something. I also was in one of the leather stools, waiting while Marion bought a zip bag, and drinking coffee, when I saw some delicious clumping great sandals for babies, wide welters, so I couldn’t resist it, and bought them for Bunch. I also bought myself a couple of small blue plates, like the cocktail glasses for soap and eating oranges, which I do at all hours of the day and night. And of course other fruit. Then we went and had tea in a café the other side of the Nile. It was a lovely afternoon with lots of clouds, and English in temperature. The Musky fascinates me, it is an amazing place, I saw a man cutting amber beads today. Of course it is so much nicer going in a car, it makes all the difference.

      There isn't really anything to tell you as I wrote last night, but I thought is was a pity to miss the opportunity of sending a letter this way. It saves me a letter card anyway, and Donald is always telling me that I can't send so many as he can't get them. We are getting two a week over Xmas which is nice.

      I am suffering from the after effects of the first cold I have had since I left England, nine months ago. Isn't it wonderful? I have had two bad attacks of tonsillitis, during the first six weeks I was here, and up to date that is all except the ever prevalent gippy tummy, which I have every two or three months.

      I do so hope you will be all right this winter Mummy. I am so thoroughly in the soup at the moment, I have got a slightly sceptic knee, I oddly enough fell over two days ago, and I am due to hitch down to a dance in Donald's mess on Friday, the day after tomorrow. I shall be so mad if I miss it. But I daresay it will be all right, very darn little cut in this country goes bad. One has to be so careful. It is the dust I suppose.

    Well I am going home now, will finish this there.

             Lots of love, R.

 

Sorry I went to sleep instead!

 


No 50.

Recd 23 Nov.

               7.XI.'43

 

     My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

             I have a lot to tell you today. On Thursday a.m. last, I was sent for by Mrs Player and the various head officers here to ask me is I would like to be put forward as an admin officer along with Marion, Jean Macalister, Lindsay. Well I was to say the least of it staggered. I didn’t know quite what to do, because it means I leave the I corps for good, and it is a good racket to be in, with Mrs P as the officer in charge. Well I thought I had better to take the opportunity offered, as there is very little hope of ever getting and I Corps one. I don’t think admin is much cop and am rather worried about being posted to Palestine or somewhere else unsuitable, but there are such terrific advantages, apart from how pleased you will be. I have to have a Board and then go to an OCTU for about 6 weeks, where one of Donald's detachments is, where we were/are going for Xmas. Of course the probability is that they will throw me out as being thoroughly unsuitable. Donald said he almost hoped they would, except that he wants me to get one badly, but the thought of having an ATS suitable to be an admin officer is too much! I agree. Then next morning, Sheelagh, Nancy and Margot were very upset by the thought of us going and went to see the CO and have their names put forward too. I don’t know any more than this, I really oughtn't to tell you all this as I feel I am bound to be thrown out as I said for being unsuitable or/and putting up an awful black. But I know you will be pleased, and anyway I couldn’t bear the thought of going to a transit camp and on a ship again as an O.R. Well there you are I don’t know when this will happen, but I am so afraid that we wont get our nice Xmas leave which is most upsetting.

    By the way I weighted myself, I have put on nearly a stone since I went into the ATS, and I should thing since I left England. What is the latest news up to date. Tea time, disgusting! I now weigh 8 st.12[35].

     I went down to Ismailia on Friday evening. Donald sent a truck which was in Cairo to pick me up and a WAAF officer here, at 2-0, and it was open. I nearly died of cold by the time we got there, I haven't been so cold since I left Bletchley. It was terrible. I was given two v. hot cups of tea and some brandy when I got there before I could speak. I just went in my ordinary bush jacket, with short sleeves and skirt. They had a shower of rain over the canal area and it was cold. We had a good party in their mess very nice. I always enjoy going and meeting Donald's chums. We stayed at the United Services Club in Ismailia, for officers of both sexes, and their families. We had a comfortable room, the married quarters, in a long low building overlooking Lake Timsah, just rooms with doors opening onto the garden. It is the place where Donald had that snap taken which he sent me. Do you remember sitting and sunbathing? It is really rather pratt, the green and the palm trees all round the lake, and the sand hills behind. The canal goes through it, rather like Mombassa or Freetown to look at, the harbour I mean, all low and flat and green, and so cheap, 7/6 a night, bed and breakfast. Three eggs and bacon, coffee, toast and marmalade! Next morning we stayed in bed late, and then Donald went off and worked, and Bunty, the WAAF officer and I wandered around and talked. She is so nice. Works here too. Must see more of her. Hand an early lunch at the French club, with me as a Flt Lt, and then hitched back here. I had to work at 5-0. But Donald thought he might as well come back as it was Sunday. So he is still here. Lovely. But he is going to come up here as much he can while I am here, in case it is very difficult to see me afterwards. But I think anyway we should eventually move from here as the war moves North. But I DON’T know anything at all, pure supposition. Anyway if I did of course I couldn’t tell you. I don’t fancy moving around the near East of the Continent as an O.R. anyway, away from Donald. Still I shall have a jolly good fiddle to see if I can't get posted to the canal area or Cairo.

    Have had such a nice lunch down at the Sporting Club today as we met Gerry and we have been saying do you remember all the afternoon till it was time to have tea. (Cambridge!) Ask Bunch.

    Well I think I shall go now, there is now work to do and I might just as well.

     Will let you know when I know anything, I oughtn't to have told you anything about this commission racket, as I shall probably get thrown out, as I am so obviously wrong as an ATS.

      With lots and lots of love,

 


51

 

                                  12:X1.'43.

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        No mail all the week, isn't it dreary?. Not much news to tell you. I filled in my papers to-day applying for a commission. My educational establishments always look nice, which is something, but I naturally haven't  birth certificate here, so they will have to forget that, it seems to be to check on you rather than me, your nationality.

     I have just finished Andre Maurois book, it is most interesting, I read it in the hair dressers this afternoon, the last bit I mean. Thank you so much too for Oriental Spotlight, I think I have already, but do you remember the picture of the sugar cane season? It is on now, and I actually saw a wog walk into a car I was in the other day chewing a stick, and the horn was sounding like mad, the book is really no exaggeration.

    Isn't it lovely I have just had a letter from you Mummy, the post Cpl has just brought it in, of Nov 1. Am longing for Xmas parcel! It is so exciting when one gets things out here. I go along about twice a day to the post office, along the passage, and see if any mail is in. The post Cpl likes me because I do things for him. He runs all the things like the library, and flag days and entertainments. I sold poppies yesterday and got Marion to help, we made £6. I do love all the bits about Carol Ann. I should so love to see her. I am longing for the photographs. I think they should arrive all right, most things seem to. You should be in Bournemouth by now, I do hope that you are having good weather. Am so glad that Dot Hill is really all right. Just to show you how much better the mail is from home, than locally, Donald sent me a parcel last Tuesday week, with 150 piastres and a slab of Cadbury's milk chocolate, which someone had had sent from New Zealand, and he didn't like it!! It hasn't arrived yet, but I expect it will, Lindsay had a book which took 3 weeks. Yes Mummy I will send some stuff, and Aunt Bee some fruit sometime, I have got over Xmas now. I do hope it comes, because Donald looked at the chocolate, and wrapped it up immediately before he ate it!

    Sorry this is rather a burbly letter, I am writing it at work, as I have finished, and Willie the man I work with, is as usual trying to talk me out of writing letters. Then we ate an orange, and all the typewriter keys are sticky.

    I went to have my camel hair coat fitted yesterday, it looks lovely. I will send you the drawing when it is finished. The tailor is so jealous of the stuff, he said he would pay anything for some if I could get it, for his wife! I shall have my uniform made there. I had my bush jackets made there too. They are made out of American drill, which Donald got from the officers shop, it is much better than English. One wears them as you will see in my photos without a shirt, and open necked. They are so much tidier. Men and women of all the services have them. Donald is coming down again to-morrow, which will be lovely. We are going to the Officers and Sisters Club at Helmieh, near here, there is a hospital near, hence the Sisters, with Gerry for dinner. Ask  Bunch for explanation of Gerry. He lent Donald a shirt and long pants last week-end, so that Donald needn't go all the way to the flat to change at sundown. I took them back this afternoon, it was most embarrassing wandering around the officers mess with my arms full of laundry, and straight from the hairdressers, and all scragged up! I had a funny time there this afternoon. I went to one I hadn't been to before, as mine was so full. I wanted them to rinse my hair with vinegar to take away the soap as the water is so hard here. They could only speak about the same amount of English as I can arabic and it was hopeless, finally they got in a trams of people from outside and someone understood!

     Don't think, there is any more to tell you at the moment. I shall probably have some more mail in the morning, as I have had some this evening.             


 

15:X1:'43.              M.E.P.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

No more mail as yet to answer. Am at present suffering from the usual Monday depression! Donald went off as usual this a.m. 'we had a lovely week-end. Didn't do very much, but had a pleasant comfortable time. We went to the officers and sisters club at Helmieh on Saturday night with Gerry, and said do you remember most of the evening of course. It Is a nice place only about a mile and a half from here, but unfortunately desertwards, which makes transport difficult. I am always thinking here of the joys to come of a car! with petrol I mean! Ones feet get tired in the heat. I got rather worried on the way out particularly that I would never be able to get my shoes on, but now it is cooler again, my feet are quite normal. Donald seems to be quite all right again which is a relief, we are still hoping to get our fortnights leave over Xmas, I do so hope we shall manage it. I shall be mad if I have to spend Xmas in a ATS OCTU! I can imagine little horrider, I wouldn't mind if they would pretend that Xmas wasn't, but they expect one to be gay and social and co-operative with all the local soldiery, (strictly O.Rs.). Funnily enough three weeks of the OCTU is in the place where we hope to be for Xmas anyway. Donald and I are thinking of working a racket in camel hair. Donald paid £10 for 6 metres for my length, from the place where they make it, just behind the shop! They make it in 6 metre lengths. The tailor where I am having it made up said that  he would pay £2 a yard or any price for some for his wife, apart from the shop if I could get it! I think it was because Otis is such a big noise there that they let Donald have it so cheap, Otis is known all over this part of the world. It comes in handy sometimes. I am so worried that all these riots may stop our going there. Still nothing has been put in orders yet as far as I know. We went to the flics on Sunday afternoon as it was such a nice sunny day! We only saw the supporting programme and news as we wanted some tea before Donald went into Cairo to Air H.Q. as he nearly always does when he comes down here at the week-end. There was an excellent short in technicolour on ballet with Danilova and Massine. The trouble is that Donald always gets so tired at week-ends as he goes to bed at 9-0 or something at the camp, there being nothing else to do. I never seem to get to bed very early however hard I try, I am usually in bed though by 11-0. But you know the difficulty B. and I have always come against about getting to bed quickly.

     Harry the third member of the flat has just gone dashing off to Italy for a few days, I am awfully jealous of all these RAF people, they always seem to be popping off to somewhere an odd thousand or miles away, for a few days. Harry was in British Overseas Airways before the war, and just goes on with his old job.

      Sorry this doesn't seem to be a big success to-night, I think I will finish it in the morning.

 

16:XI:'43.  Sorry I didn't finish this last night, I felt rather drear, I always do on Mondays, a fortnight always seems so long till Donald comes again, I have now forgotten I didn't see him for 15 months!

   I had to go and see Mrs Player about something I had oddly enough filled in wrong in my commission forms, and she told me that there wasn’t going to be another OCTU for two months, so I feel greatly cheered, we shall get our leave in. I must write and tell Donald, apparently a YWCA is just being opened where we want to spend Xmas, and so as he has a detachment there, he has asked Laurie Crane, one of the officers, to book us rooms, I think this is an excellent idea the food is always good there, and quite comfortable, and we will save pots of hotel bills. Yws are about 25 or 30 piastres a night, bed and B. i.e. 5 or 6/-. Laurie Crane lives in Sandy Lane as I told you once before. Donald also has a Flight Sgt, at Ismailia who lives opposite the Church. Codsall I mean! I haven't met either of them yet, but Donald says that Laurie is a nice man. Laurie apparently knows the woman who is opening the Wy. So we ought to be all right.

     I have just bought a p.t. worth of peanuts and am steadily finishing them, that is about ¼lb. I love them, it is the thing to do to eat them in the flics here! Really I mean everyone does.

      Have just been to see Jean, the girl I share a room with, in hospital. She has got jaundice. And is bright yellow. Lots of people get it here. She seems quite happy, she hates this place, the work I mean, and she will get sick leave at a convalescent depot I expect, in Palestine.

      I knew I forgot something. Thank you both so much for your cables for our wedding anniversary. Lovely to get them. We are still always saying how thoroughly we enjoyed getting married, I wish one could repeat it. It was a lovely day. Lots and lots of love, due mostly to your organisation!!

 


53.

 

                          20:XI:'43

 

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

I have just had my usual after lunch shower, the only time of the day when the water is anything like hot. It is getting a little chilly now to have cold one.  I had an excited letter from Donald last night, saying that he had a hot bath at some Major's place! It is getting cold now, I am always either too hot or too cold, it is very like England, I now wear my serge half time, and am too hot! I went out in it last night for the first time, down to the club to have tea, and everyone teased me no end, all my stripes, and buttons and things.

    I was frightfully pleased to get an enormous bunch of letters last night, the first for ages. There was complete chaos, the post Cpl finally came to me and said, Mrs Maitland, I don't think this can be for you, but it has got your number  on it, we did look on the back to see if that helped, but we couldn't read it, and of course Daddy, it was addressed to Cpl Parkes! We laughed a lot! Did you know that you had done it? after you posted it I mean? I pm so glad that Branksome Towers is so successful. The food does sound good. We don't often get bacon here as it is about 5/- a lb. I am so glad the weather is being reasonable

Too. I still find it so difficult to think of you in the cold and rain. It is amazing how much longer letters take posted in the village, I had one from you Daddy, written in Bournemouth dated 11th and one from you Mummy of the 8th. and one from Beryl in London of the 12. Maddening I have left all the letters at the office, so I shall write the last bit of this there.

     I had such a nice evening last night, I went with Kit and Derek, the WRNS  rating and her husband, the RAF M.O. to a do at 216 Group. (Group is the next thing up from Wing I think) They have a beer and sandwich party every Friday night, and ask a few people. I know a lot of people there, the two Sq. Ldrs. in Stanley's flat belong to it too. They are such a charming couple.  She is going to have a baby in May. I am going to start knitting. For her! Beer and English cigarettes are two of the most prized things out here. Both nearly impossible to get. A little whisper goes round that Tommy's bar sells beer on the dot of 6-30, and runs out by 6-40, and everyone dashes!

     I had a marvellous collection or books from yon too this week, the thing by Sir Arthur Evans, Gilbert Frankau and J.L.Hodson. Will have to keep the letter well out of Donald's sight till I have read it! It is so sweet of you to keep sending me them, I do so wish I could do something in return, but there is so little here that one can send. I have discovered a new kind of Turkish Delight, which I will send you in due course, stuffed with cream.                                                      

     We had a lovely lecture the other day by the head of this place on wanting  admin commissions, because since the first few of us have tried for them, several other people have also had their names put down for the Selection Board. Of course they don't want to lose us all. Anyway he gave us a fine lecture on the art of muddled reasoning kept on telling us we were officer material, and ought to have commissions, and that we must stay here in the ranks. How awful it would be if we had to look after ATS from the place where we are going at Xmas, quite forgetting that as things are at present, we are supposed to be equal to them! These people haven't a clue what it is like to be in the ranks, they talk such nonsense. He is a silly man anyway. I very foolishly said that one couldn't turn down a commission if only for one's parent's sake, which enraged him! Only one person has changed her mind though, I meant to have this censored here, but I think I had better send it to Donald after all!

    My next letter to you will be my Xmas one, Well I think I shall leave this space to answer your letters properly.                                

 

At work. Daddy, how incredible to be able to sell the Rover for so much, I should think you are sorry to see it go though Mummy. No I did not know Phillippa Reade was coming out, lucky child being a civilian. I thought of you in the village with the stall when I was selling poppies on Nov. 11. Mummy.                                                          

   Am going to a flic with Sheelagh to-night, after I have rung Donald up, so am feeling remarkably uncomfortable all done up in my serge and a tie and stockings. It is awful wearing them after being in summer clothes since the end of January!          

   Poor little Bertie being lost for a day, you must have been worried I didn't know he wild deign (spelling?) to go on a bus, I once tried most unsuccessfully to get him on one!

   I don't think that there is really any more to tell you, on Monday I shall have to try and write you an Xmas letter, it seems so funny doing it so long before the time. If our leave shouldn't come off we have received a beautifully formal invitation to stay at the flat and join in the celebrations.   Lots and lots of love and thanks   

 


54.

                                21:XI:'43.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

This is the last letter that I shall be able to write which will get there definitely before Xmas, I am afraid. So, a happy Xmas, I do so wish we were both at home for it. We had such a lovely one two year's ago, this time next year Donald's tour over-seas will be just about over anyway, whatever the war is doing which is something. I do hope that you won't be too lonely. And that Bunch and Peter and the baby will be at home. Lucky things. I do hope that you will have a happy day, I will think of you a lot. I have sent you an Xmas cake and a large parcel of food, and you Daddy, a copper plate and some Turkish Delight. I do hope that you will get it all right. I am so annoyed, do you remember that ages ago I told you I was having you some handkerchiefs made, and that the nuns who were doing them had gone off to Alex till November? Well they have come back and haven't even started them. They will be another month. I am very fed up as they have had the stuff six months. I hope you will get them eventually. They started  out as a birthday present, then Xmas, and will finish as Easter!

      I went to see Major Dryden, the C.0. of 5.I.S, this evening about this  commission racket, and he was very nice, and didn't try to persuade me to stay, but just told me what to say, and what not, in the interview. I am having a try at a staff job rather than admin. I would much prefer it if I can. He thought I ought to be able to land it if I handle the interview right, and for half an hour or so I can generally convince people how efficient I am! Also I don't fancy being stuck with a lot of ATS and REME or something like that in one of these enormous camps in the desert. Base depot sort of places. Wish I could explain them to you, they are quite unlike anything in England, but it wouldn't be quite the thing in a letter I feel.

    It has just appeared on orders that all leave to Syria and the Lebanon is cancelled. It is maddening. It is possible that Donald might be able to fix it, quite how I don't know but still. Still Palestine isn't at present. That is the main thing. Anyway if I get a commission, one gets leave again, though I feel that wont be much help, as a. we shan't be able to afford to go again, b. Donald wont get any more, c. I shall have to get some clothes, and all that type of thing. The thing which  really angers me is the thought of having to buy suitcases and trunks!

     Had a very pleasant afternoon, went down to the club and had a hot shower and then had tea with some RAP chum of Alan's, and a long argument about the meaning of civilisation, we were still arguing when I got off the metro to come here.

     Oh about leave after commissioning, of course it will be lovely, because I shall be able to go and stay at the Services Club in Ismailia, and get over the horrors of an OCTU, and Donald can always live out and possibly come for lunch, I merely meant we shouldn't be able to go to Syria. Oh I do hope that all this works. From everyone's point of view. Toy want me to get one, and so does Donald, for more or less the same  reasons, and so do I. A staff job replacing a man would be much nicer than admin too.

     This is really meant to be an Xmas letter I seem to be diverging badly from the point as usual. I sent Nanny some sweets and Bunch too, the latter from the famous Home Made Cakes, where I got the cake. And where I am always stuffing myself on French cakes. You would both love it. It is so nice and clean, very small, and run by two typical French lower middle class women, very large and bullying to all the wog children who run about with trays. They find me very funny, because on two occasions I have nearly gone away without my change from a note! They even asked me after Donald when he came down here on sick leave, at least after he had gone back, though how they knew my name was Maitland and that he was here on sick leave is beyond me. Donald is very fond of it and insists on going there at weekends.

     I hope that you will get a turkey all right, though I don't doubt it. The Parkes family is too well organised! Think of me when you are eating it. I believe we are going to get them too, but it won't be like home. And lovely mince pies... And Brussels sprouts, we often talk reminiscently about Brussels sprouts and English potatoes: And purple sprouting. We talk about food far more out here even than at home now, one talks about managing!

  Oh dear this sounds awful, and as though all I want to be at home for is the food. We just long and long to be settled and home, and not trekking around the world. But I am very lucky and I am seeing a lot of things I never would have done otherwise, and learning the virtues of the English.

Have a very happy Xmas, and lots and lots of love, I shall  think of

you lots,


55                     NB 5.S.I.Coy, MEF

 

 

                                   26:X1;'43.

     Darling Mummy and Daddy, heaven alone knows when you will get this, yesterday was the last date for Xmas letters. I sent Donald two to forward to you On Sunday. It is Friday, I like Fridays, Donald is coming to-morrow, and to-day I shall have my hair washed, and polish my nails and generally get organised. We get paid too, a thing I like very much!

    Am buying myself a new frock for Xmas, with some of your money, I am having some plain woolly material, in pink, which looks lovely  with my coat, and partly I must admit because no one who wasn't very English and fair could possibly wear the colour.  I am hardly brown at all now, except my legs, at least if I came home I suppose I might be compared with every one else. It was so funny in the club the other day there were a group of RAF officers having tea, obviously fresh from home with white knees and necks! One of my knees is unfortunately bright pink as it went septic and all the skin came off, and it hasn’t had time to get brown again, it looks horrid. To continue I am going to try and save up and send you and B. a length of this stuff, as it is not very expensive, and is lovely and soft. Only in plain colours. Hope to get it to you by Easter. I am sending you a bit of mine, and a pattern of my coat, and the design by ordinary mail. It is such a good thing to invest in I think as I can wear it at home.

    I am just finishing War in the Sun, I am enjoying it v. much. Of course I know a lot of the places in Alex and Cairo that he talks about and all the aerodromes that he mentions by name, and Donald goes to quite a lot of them now. I find it so difficult to keep up with all the aerodromes, Donald natters about them all the time, and everyone keeps on saying, so and so has gone to El Adem or Ballah or some other Wog name. Its terrible.

     I had a letter from you two days ago Mummy from Bournemouth of Nov 13. I am so glad to hear that Branksome Towers is so nice. It must be a nice change. Also glad to hear that you have bought one or two new garments! 0h I meant to tell you that the poinsettias are all out now, great bushes of them mixed up with the bougainvillaea which never seems to stop flowering. Have only seen red poinsettias yet. I do hope that you will get some oranges and lemons. The latter would make such a difference. Tangerines are just beginning again here. I have got two on my desk now. I remember you or Mummy telling me that you had a Jaeger coat too Daddy, we shall all have to go out in them together! It isn't worth sending me any clothes really, it is too much risk its losing them, and they are such a trouble to keep all right, we have so little room, and I am terrified that one of the various types of insects may damage them. With any luck I may be better off with a commission though. We have hot water again now thank goodness so I can wash my underclothes, before I heated it up on my stove. I am not too badly off for warm clothes, I shall have my blue pleated frock, (Goodricks) which I have had beautifully cleaned and repleated, my new pink one, a coat, two jerseys and trousers, and an odd skirt, as well as that silk blouse, green blue one, and that broderie Anglaise one. Have to go into serge next week. But still this morning, as there is so little to do, I walked down into village for elevenses, and had iced coffee and a doughnut.

    I hitched to Abbassia to see Jean, my room mate in hospital, she has got jaundice, poor child she is a colour. She doesn’t seem to mind, she so hates work, and is quite pleased she will have to go to a convalescent depot in Jerusalem. It would drive me mad but still. I go two or three times a week to see her. But I do love having the room to myself, I am so glad you got my ordinary mail letter with biographies. I had tea with Mimi and Stanley at the club, and ate a toasted ham sandwich! I went in a jeep yesterday, after shooting brakes, and staff cars, I like jeeps. It is a very awkward place to get to Abassia, they only have white trams, which are awful they run through the poorer Wog parts and just bulge with people. I never dare sit down on them.

     Donald is having a flying lesson on Sunday afternoon with that nice little Egyptian friend of Marion's that I told you about who is in Misr Airways, he offered to give him one so I know Donald will be pleased.

 

Lot of love. R.

 


No 56.

30:XI:'43

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy, Have just had two letters from you, one each. Want to clear up money. It is very sweet of you to say that you would pay- off my overdraft Daddy, but please don't. You see out here, I still have £30 or 31 to my credit, nothing to do with home, and that with Donald's money will last me I hope till Easter, by which time I hope to have a commission and some more money. You see I want to leave my account at the N.P. to pay itself off. This is apart from any money you send me for Xmas. The Maitlands have sent us £5 each, so we are doing well. Donald has saved nearly £200 at home I believe which we can always get if we want it. I am sorry to panic unnecessarily out here about money, but prices shock me so much all the time. Oh the £30 is after I have paid for the pink woolly frock! Am sending you the pattern by ordinary mail by the same post.

     Now for nicer subjects. I was so shocked when I got Bunch's letter about her teeth that I went to the dentist this morning! Great courage and had nothing to be done. I have been once before out here, but haven't had anything done since before I went into the ATS. Poor B. It is dreadful. I do hope her teeth will be all right now. But I have had a spot! When Donald arrived on Saturday afternoon, his first wards were, what an awful spot! It has now gone! (on my cheek.)   

     Sorry to have to write you one of these, but I have run out of the others.  Horrors, there is a rumour that the letter cards marked free are held up till Dec 20 for Xmas, and I have gone on writing them quite casually as ordinary ones, we were issued with two a week for four weeks before Xmas. If this is so I am afraid that your mail will be in a mess.

    We had a lovely week-end, Donald came down for lunch, on Sat. and went on Monday morning. My coat was a big success. It is beautifully made with lots left in the seams, as it is fitting thing! (Mummy). It is getting quite chilly without one at night. Donald had a flying lesson on Sunday afternoon. In a Tiger Moth. Isn't it lovely, our leave begins in less than three weeks, everyone is very annoyed that we won't be at the flat for Xmas, as they are having a big party. We had dinner with Gerry Wilkes on Saturday, he and Donald whispered about guns as usual! Gerry looks so odd with everyone else in the RAF. Army officers are called  Pongoes out her, for some unknown reason, by the RAF!

    I shall have to finish this on another form, there is never enough room. Hope they will both arrive together, they usually do if you write me two.


No 56

30:XI:'43  (an airgram)

 

Cont. from last one.

Have got my pre commission board interview on Thurs. So had better get myself all polished up. After all these interviews I shall have lied myself so stiff in the face that I shan’t know when I am not! The interviews don’t worry me much. It is the OCTU I don’t fancy.

  What a nice idea having Joan White for Xmas, is Peter still up North? It won't seem a bit like Xmas out here, except for having a party it will be just like ordinary leave. Your birthday letter does seem to have come a bit early Daddy, I am sorry, but there is such a muddle with mail at Xmas over the time it takes.

    I went and helped Kit and Derek with the inventory of their flat yesterday afternoon. They are the couple with the baby. She is leaving the WRNS next week. It is a priceless flat with so much furniture you can't move, but no crockery or cutlery. Still it is clean and quiet. They have just got two puppies of the pointer type, so what it will be like, I can't imagine. Lots of people keep dogs out here. We had three with us yesterday, an M.O. friend of Derek's had his setter too. He had brought it him down from El Adem, Tobruk, by air! Mimi has a pointer too which someone brought down from Sidi Resegh or some place up there, and gave it to her.

    I didn’t know the Wiles were in the H.G. I tried to send them an Xmas card, but couldn’t remember the name of their house, so sent it to Tettenhall. I do hope that you won’t be too lonely over Xmas. Bunch did not think Peter would get off in her last letter. Isn’t it terrific, all the things which I left in Durban 9 months ago, turned up on Sat. so now I have all my letters, that pigskin writing thing, my address book and the like. As well as all my books. I never thought I should I should see that again. Yes it must be very quiet without the baby, she doesn’t cry much though does she?

   How dreadful about Dick Seymour, I never knew he was missing at Singapore. Con must be having a lovely time at Durban, there were some WRNS in the hotel where we were for the month, living  in the lap of luxury.

   I told you I think that leave to Syria has been stopped? But we can still go to Palestine and perhaps by Xmas we may be able to go. I do hope so. I am just longing for it. As usual won't be able to believe that we shall go, until I actually set out from here. The only thing that worried me is that the commission board will come at the wrong moment. The interview on Thursday it was to see that we are suitable to have an interview!! This looks like the end of the letter, so lots of love, I will write a letter card at the end of the week.


57

 

3:X11:'43.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    I am sorry earlier on in the week I had to write you two airgrams instead of one of these. I am afraid that I shall have to once a week unless Donald can help.                              

     Haven't had any mail since I last wrote. Oh yes I have, a letter from you Mummy of the 22. Thank you. I am very glad that I have had that of all the people, here, you will have to keep it up to date.

     Have just been down to the dentist again at Abyssia. Just because I had one or two little ulcers on my gums, which have gone now.

     You asked if I had had my hair permed Mummy. Yes I have twice since I left home, just the ends both times, once in Durban the first day we were there, in February, and once in June here. They did it very well both times about £1 each time. The hair dressers here are very good, I always go to the same man in Helio, usually every other Friday afternoon. 5/-.  They wash it better than anywhere else I have ever known, and also set it well. The only thing I don't like is the smell of garlic which pervades all. I rang Donald up the night before last, having heard an awful rumour from Lesley via her husband that he didn't expect to be here in two months. Donald says though there is no such rumour, and Patrick always talks like that. Stanley said he was sure they would never move too. Lesley is the girl who was at Bredenbury and Patrick her husband is with Donald and she is here with me, as a civilian. We are very chummy as a result.

    How lovely having truffles and pralines from America, very nice of the girl, though I am sure you were good to her. Mummy it is sweet of you to send me fudge, I shall love it, but so naughty, I send you food for yourselves. But I shall adore it, and save Donald one piece, and eat the rest myself. It hasn't come yet of course.

     There is a paragraph in the paper this morning I see about, the temps. we had here during October, I think I will cut it out and send it to you, to show you what we were living through when you were freezing. I think on the hottest day of the year I got a letter from you Daddy to say that there had been about 6 degrees of frost! It was the time Donald was ill.

     I am glad that the photos have arrived. I hated them so much I nearly tore them up as I told you, only Donald stopped me! If you can't get any more done let me know and I will have them done out here, I think I can all right. My hair was looking such a mess, I think I was on the way to have it washed.

     Very glad to hear about David Smith. Do give him my love. I hope that Barbara will get her school cert. this time. I suppose she takes it this month.

    I had a pre selection board interview yesterday about this commission. A very nice female about the first really nice ATS officer I have ever met.  A Lt. Col. It will be weeks yet before we get as far as an OCTU, even supposing that she passed me and the board does. I pulled a terrific line for getting  a staff commission. I think it would mean living out and away from ATS, • and anyway I would like the work so much better. She was impressed by me in the Min. of Food, which shook me. It is all such a bother, and fuss about nothing. I long and long more every  day not to be an ATS. It is all so stupid and silly and useless. Thank heaven she didn't ask me any silly questions about what I thought of the ATS. My one dream is to tell some of those sort of people who could do something about it! Sheelagh told some visiting dignitary and the head ATS out here just that she did not like the ATS and they were so horrified that they didn't, know what to say. Very brave of her!

      I am going into Cairo this afternoon. I like to poke around occasionally and see how things are compared with here. I usually go about once a fortnight, apart from going with Donald on Sundays at some time or another when I wait for him in Middle East of Air H.Q, He always goes into see them for a cup of tea or something, and to impress what a good type he is! It pays and there are always things he really has to see then about!

     I shall be running my section from next week on. Nice isn't it; I shall like having my name on the door.

    Can't think of any more to tell you at the moment.

    I will send this to Donald to be censored, and add any more  then if I think of it.    


No 58

Handwritten: I quite forgot Daddy, I hadn't answered the letter I had from you on Sunday of 25 Nov, though I think I have in this letter.

7:X11:'45.
    My Darling Mummy and Daddy,
         Nothing to tell you I am afraid, except that I have just had your letter of 28 Nov. Mummy, thank you. Yes do go and see Mrs Thurston. Jim her son, Marion's husband, has just been sent or is just being, home, from North Africa, and so Marion is going home too. At least she wills be in time. When she does she is sure to come to Wolverhampton, and I shall ask her to come and see you, or you could meet her or something. You will like her very much. She will be able to tell you so much that I can't in letters. Poor Marion is so depressed to think of Jim arriving home and her not being there. But apparently one gets posted automatically home on applying if ones husband is. This coming from the ATS staggers me.
     One thing I have been meaning to tell you for ages Mummy, is just how useful that little jersey you knitted has been. I have worn it so much, on the ship in Durban when we first arrived here, and lately till we went into serge. I shall wear it again I have no doubt under my tunic. I washed it the other day, it was filthy, but has washed beautifully. I am at present wearing my serge skirt and that cardigan I bought at Austin Reeds. Do you remember. I don't wear a tunic as we only have one and one skirt, and how ever we shall manage I don't know. We will have to wear them from now till the middle of April I suppose. I am quite warm enough in jersey and skirt except at night.
    I should love to see Sir Stewart Duke Elder when he comes out here again. You didn't say what he said, but you sound I think, from your letters, better than when I left home. I do hope so.
    I am delighted to hear about Harry While. I am so pleased that he is going to have a home appointment. Dear Jannette, she will be so happy. Dive him my love. Hope they will have a baby nice and quickly too. It's about time!
    I had tea with Gerry this afternoon, he is having a week's leave. But is very fed, and dying to get back to his wife. Have arranged as usual to have dinner with him on Saturday night when Donald is down. Not that they will do anything but whisper about guns, or something  similar! If only I knew a little more about mechanical engineering I should learn a lot from the conversation that goes on always. Stanley amuses me so much. Always in any argument or discussion, he asks Donald for the deciding point no matter what the subject, and when Donald isn't there, he asks me! Deputy I suppose.
    Bunch must be having a hectic time. Poor child. She says anyway that Carol Ann takes up all her time. She is so good too, she always writes to me once week, and I know what an effort she finds it.
     I have just been elected to the library committee of this station, as the ATS representative. I knew I would be immediately the idea of having an ATS representative was raised, as the post Cpl runs it! I have I know told you about him before. He ran the poppies. He runs everything like that. All the ENSA shows we have etc. He is ordinarily a dramatic critic. He is priceless, and always calls me Mrs Maitland most punctiliously, in spite of the fact I always call him Desmond!
    He is great believer in the social conventions! He is a matter of fact very friendly with a lot of very nice people, English, who live in Cairo, retired Generals widows and the like! But he always makes me laugh. He thinks I am so nice, and ladylike! Which pleases me as it is so rare from the army.
    I collected my grey flannel skirt this afternoon. It looks so nice. Two inverted pleats in the front and two at the back. I have managed to get a frock and skirt for £6-10 by judicious buying, which I think is a triumph, for prices out here. I am very smug, no one can understand how I did it, but I am not emulating Aunt Bee, and told them all! I have now got plenty of clothes for all emergencies. P.S. grey flannel is £2 a metre about 46 inches wide. Tweed though is about £4. Metre is 39 inches.
    I went and had tea with Kit and Derek in their flat in Sunday. It was fun. We turned Derek out to go and play squash and overate and gossiped. Everyone gets so nicely when we do either of these things at the club! In these flats there is never enough cutlery or china or anything, and the one thing that made me laugh so much was using Derek's khaki drill, alias k.d. for a tea cosy, as Kit had of tired of using her WRNS hat! Well I think that is all for now. I am so jealous of the pig. Pork  pie...   But we are much more jealous of Marion and Jim.

               Lots and lots of love.

 

How nice having Edith P. to stay. Glad you picked up the hint re Mombassa Daddy, I couldn’t convey in any other way.

 


No 59     14:X11:'43.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,
    I am sorry I have been dreadful this week and only written to you once, I -of very disorganised, I don't quite know why. Very sorry about this.
    The picture of Bunch and Carol Ann arrived on Saturday morning, I think it is absolutely beautiful. I have never seen such a healthy looking baby. She looks exactly like the photographs of Bunch at that age. It is sweet, and so terribly good of Bunch too. They are alike. I am so glad her hair is making an effort to curl! I am v. proud of it, and rushed all round the offices showing it all my various friends.
    Thank you too Daddy very much for the cheque which arrived at the end of the week. It will be more than useful!! I shall buy myself some souvenir in Palestine. Quite what I don't know at the moment. It has arrived good and early. The way money goes here is so awful! The old cry.
    I had lots of Xmas cards too at the end of the week thank the animals! Mummy. And a sweet letter from Beattie Rowley all about the baby. I would so love to see her.
     I had a lovely long week-end with Donald, he had to come up here to do some business on Friday night, and Saturday a.m. and so was here till Monday. We had a nice peaceful time and didn't do much. I had an attack , only slight, on Sunday, of the tummy! - Gippy-! So we couldn't anyway. Donald is not very sure, at the last minute, whether he will be able to get leave, he has the necessary papers all signed, but there may be a sudden rush of work, and then he will have to stay. It will be most disappointing if he can't but I shall go and stay there for a fortnight anyway whatever happens, I can't put off my leave with commission boards and the like cropping up. Apart from the fact I simply must get away from the ATS for a while. I do hope that he  will be able to make it, he will be so disappointed. We might be able to combine part of the work and leave as he may have to go to Syria, and then I could go too, even if, I hope it is out of bounds. Still we will see. Oh I am so longing for it, I can't think of anything else. Stan was flying Donald back on Monday a.m., but they couldn't take off till 12, as there was a bad ground mist. Amazing we do get it some tines. He couldn't go then it was too late, Stan, and so sent Donald off with a Harvard and a pilot. He has been so kind to us, I do hope that after the war we shall be able to repay his hospitality.
    Jean is going off to Palestine to-morrow, the girl I share a room with, to a convalescent depot in Jerusalem. She has been in hospital for a month or so with jaundice. Now she has come out Sheelagh has gone in with a slight touch of tonsillitis I think.  I went to see her this afternoon heavily laden with fruit tangerines bananas, and grapefruit, and books, to find that she is perfectly all right, and hopes to be out in two or three days. I am very glad is so dreary there. Glad too because it is such a treck there. It is half way between Helio and Cairo, but only on the white tram route, not the metro, and the white trams are all fellaheen and the lowest type of Egyptian, and perfectly horrid.
    Daddy, I finished that book of Cecil Beatons at the end of the week, and gave it to Donald to read, I think it is one of the best books of that type I have ever read It is excellent. The part of the Middle East that I know at all, the canal area Alex and Cairo, and troop ships is so true. And it is so well written. I am so glad to have got it. I found a Baedecker in Rufus room this afternoon, I shall read it, or rather look at it.
    I dashed in on my way back to work from the hospital, and had my usual hot shower. We don't get any hot water at all, it is awful. I spend hours a day heating water on my stove for washing underclothes and the like, and since it will only heat a pint and a half or so at a time it is a bit slow. There is a bad shortage of fuel in Egypt I think  always. All these flats only seen to have hot water at certain times or days, and very few have fire places, or any method of heating. Like Egypt, they are very shoddily built when you look.
     It is lovely I can hear carols wafting up from below, they are practising  for Xmas day. They even asked me, but they didn't know... I should have gone in spite of this, if we had been here.
     I suppose it must really be hot here still. I am sitting in front of the open window at my desk, looking out into the night, in a tunic, and I haven't gone into vests yet, but I am warm enough, though some times later on at night, I get very cold. I think my blood has got thin.
      To-morrow afternoon I must go into Cairo and take my pearls to be restrung.  It is all right Mummy, it is a reputable place and one ???? sits over the Arab while they do it. have some photographs developed for Donald, and have a new zipper put on my bag.  I shall have a busy time till leave getting things organised, and all my washing and ironing done. Donald thinks that one of his trucks will have to come up here on the day we go on leave. ie. next Monday night! He is also transport officer at his station! As well as engineer.

     Thank you v. much Daddy for the most useful present I could have!

               Lots of Love,


60

16:XII:'43

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,
   Have just had a lovely bunch of mail, no less than five letter cards! Such fun One from you Mummy of 7 Dec. They are getting here beautifully quickly in spite of XMAS. How amazing John Braithwaite turning up all of a sudden. He has had a time I should think. He was with the 8th Army I presume. Wish I was at home to have dinner with you and all the Whiles, how happy they must all be to have Harry home, I would love to see Janette all happy again.
    I had a busy and horrid afternoon washing, boiling and blueing my handkerchiefs. A most delicate operation, since all the water has to be heated on my little stove. And it poured with rain all the afternoon too. All the streets are flooded, and of course it rained into our flats, as they have a staircase, which curves round the inside of block of flats, yet outside the inner doors of the flats so that the staircase well is open to the sky. So suitable for rain! I believe that it rains quite a lot in Palestine; so I shall be prepared for the worst. It will be very cold too, I know. Syria is again open for leave, isn't that nice. There won't be time to get a pass, but Robin, a girl friend of mine here knows the D.A.F.M. in Beirut, and has written to him for me, Donald will just write himself out a movement order. I must ring Donald up tonight and find out all the dope. I rang him up yesterday afternoon when he said he would be in, and held on for 10 minutes and he wasn’t. I was peeved! But he can't help it, they thought he was in one of the planes.



19:X11:'43.

      My Darling Mummy and Daddy,
Have just spent such a curious Sunday. I was shivering away this morning in a Jersey, and jacket, and then had the last of a series of injections for an obscure tropical disease for which the army injects one wisely I suppose, I don't mind as I like collecting injections in the form of scalps, I have had so many for this and that. They always give me a foul headache, so I decided I couldn't face the Attery lunch and went down to the club instead and had an enormous plate of lovely cold boiled ham, and salad and bread and butter, and lashings of hot coffee. Then I went and had my hair washed. Then a hot shower, and tea again at the club, with a charming Major at the Gunnery School, with whom Gerry shares a room. His name is Cyril, being between 35 and 40, Daddy! He was most amusing, the other morning, when I was down in Helio getting some pennies for leave from the Bank, he flashed past me in a taxi, waving violently. He had just given a young subaltern a lift, and he said the young man, was suitable impressed by Cyril waving violently to an ATS Cpl at 11-0!

    Start leave to-morrow. Isn't it heavenly? Donald is coming up here tomorrow afternoon to pick me up. Then we catch the train from Ismailia on Tuesday afternoon at 5-0. We are going by train in the end. Leave to Syria has just been re-opened, but I can't get a pass through in time but I an hoping to manage it, as I have a letter to the Provost Marshall.
     Had a terrific, lots of mail this week, five on Thursday and three on Saturday. Two from you Mummy of the 2 and 7, and one from you Daddy, of 3. Thank you very much for the £5 Mummy, in advance, when it arrives, it takes the Bank here as long to tell me, as it does to came from home. The post is slow. I thought I might buy myself a bit of Syrian jewellery or something like that. Still I shall see when I get there and enjoy wandering around and looking. I am so glad that Bunch is having a shoulder bag, I remember that she was very jealous of mine. I still use it every day, and apart from the fact that the leather has gone a lot darker, it is as good as new, and it has had very hard wear.
     Isn't, it dreadful about Mr Churchill? It said today in the paper that he had passed the crisis. It would be dreadful if anything happened to him. Eden always strikes me is being useless, and there is no-one much else. Yes I knew that he was here for that conference. You see Alan and Harry, two of the people in the flat, are pretty high up in the Air Transport bit of the RAF here. We thought it was Stalin though not Chiang Kai Chek. We knew of course too, because certain places were put out of bounds to troops for that time. The hotel were they were etc.
      How nice having Edith Phippen for a fortnight.
      No Daddy, there is no Times Library here! That is the reason why I love to get books from home so much, or one reason. I can now get novels and a few biographies occasionally of not less than 9 months old, from the club though which is a great advantage. I got Frontier Passage by Ann Bridge to-day.
     I sent you a cable this morning I do hope that you will get it in time. I don't quite know how I shall manage about mail on leave, as I shan't be able to get hold of any of these.
     Through one thing an another I didn’t get this posted, and am now sitting on my bed in the Windsor Hotel, Haifa!
    Will tell you all about it in my next,

         Lots and lots of love, R.


An Airgraph:
4:1:'44
My Darling Mummy and Daddy,
       I don't know what to say, I haven't written all the time I have been on leave. I think I must send a cable tomorrow, as part from being disappointed, you may worry. We have had such a heavenly time. Absolutely marvellous, and we have seen so much, and done so much. I am sending you a long letter about it all, I don't know whether I shall have enough letter cards to do it like that, I must investigate the situation. We have been everywhere form Turkey to Cairo. At least right to the Turkish frontier. I came back this morning. Leave was up, we nearly didn't get back as the weather was terribly bad the last few days in Aleppo and the Lebanon. We came by air, DC3. You know the big transport crates. We were terribly lucky, as the 600 odd miles by road took us 3 and a half hours by air with two stops, apart from the fact that it was the most enthralling view over Syria. The pilot was nice and let my sit all the way in the second pilots seat, as you don’t get much of a view from the main part. It was lovely and cold up there. I am now so hot in Egypt that I am sitting on front of the open window in a shirt. We nearly dropped when we got out of the plane at Beirut to stretch our legs. The change in temperature was so enormous.
     It is of course terribly depressing to be back, but that is alleviated lots by the mail that is sitting in front of me waiting to be read. Also two parcels. That lovely one you sent me full of everything. It looks heavenly. I have only peeped so far. I wanted to get this off  before I did anything. I am dying to look at everything. I hate the thought of sorting all my things out though. It is horrid. At the moment though I am gazing happily at all my letters, and not bothering.

    This isn't much of a letter, I am a bit worried about how much I can tell you about leave. I shall send all the stuff down to Donald to read over. You know where Otis is stationed, and he is head of the British Security Mission there, and rules and enormous territory. Some hundreds of miles in width, literally, I mean it. However, I shall do my best.
     Then I came back I discovered that we have all been lobbed out with our Africa Stars. This is very funny, as we have spent all our leave making ribald remarks at all the army types sporting them. I must ring up Donald and tell him, he will be most amused.
     The food in Syria was divine, I have gone up to a pound short of 9 stone, having lost a few pounds before. Wait for a real letter. All love, and lots of thanks for unopened stuff. R.




63.
4:I:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

              Here beginneth my monumental epistle, I trust. The best thing I think I can do is start from the very beginning.
       That is Monday lunch time, December 20.  I worked during the morning, and had the afternoon off. Donald was due to come up sometime during the afternoon or evening. Well he didn't turn up and I had to go into Cairo and pick up one or two things that weren't ready, nothing ever is in this country. I got back in a panic, no sign of Donald, snatched a taxi, it was then dark and 7-30. Rushed to Stanley's office, and he took one look at me, and asked what was the matter. I asked him to phone Donald, which he did. He can do it so much easier than I can, it only took 5 minutes or less to get Ismailia and then the right unit. Donald had of course had a rush at the last minute, and hadn't been able to leave till the last minute, and so caught the 8-0 train, and arrived at the flat about 1-30!  Panic over. Next a.m. we did our packing and got organised, and finally hitched down to Ismailia, as it takes about 4 hours by train. We had lunch on route, at a road house place. Then We got the train to Palestine at 6-0 at Ismailia. The train stops for an hour at Kantara, where one has to get tickets, they don’t issue them through, and also dinner. There is a very good officers NAAFI there, where they rush dinner through in an amazingly short space of time. It is a ghastly journey, broken by various stops of an hour or so, for why no-one knows. We didn’t have sleepers. Finally we arrived at Haifa about 10-0. We managed to get a sandwich and a cup of tea at Lydda on one of the numerous stops. Some enterprising spirits even shaved. We didn’t see much on the journey as most of it was in darkness. A pity. A great relief to get to Haifa. We went straight to the Windsor Hotel, in pouring rain! Visibility 0 yards at 0 feet.  A very nice hotel, so comfortable after Egypt, and well done. I was rather ill with tummy trouble the first day, which was a nuisance, but it went immediately. Haifa is a nice town, so clean. Mount Hermon in the background. Rather a disappointing hill really. We ran into a man we met on our last leave in Alex there, one Bill Powers, a charming man in the navy. So we went out to dinner with him, this was on Thursday.  Still raining. The food in Palestine is terrible, much worse than  at home, and the bread is all but black, and seams to have sand in it. You know how potty Donald is about breakfast, well they gave us both mornings we were there, just one minute sausage, and didn't serve either oranges or grapefruit and  the place is stiff with them. We went out to the aerodrome where Donald has a detachment, and wandered about a bit. There we got a message from Otis saying that we had simply got to come up to Aleppo. Donald's letter to him saying that we were having leave had taken 18 day's! Incidentally I met the man who lives in Sandy Lane. He is at Haifa. We thought we would go up to Aleppo after Xmas, but the food and spirit was so depressing that we suddenly decided at lunch time the day after we arrived that we would go for Xmas if we could. It is 400 miles! Well we went to see the D.A.P.M. and movements and the R.R.O. to see about a movement  order for Syria for Donald, I had one, and transport. They more or less laughed in our faces. 0tis however had said ring up his Colonel in Beirut for transport. It takes rather over 24 hours, by train. We had just got back to the hotel and fixed and fixed us a lift as far as Beirut, when the D.A.P.M. rang up and said that a Sq. Ldr. was going all the way the next morning starting at 7-30. That is the morning of Christmas Eve, Friday.
   It was a beautiful day, and we started off, in a Dodge 15 hundred weight truck to go 400 miles in a day! We had one other officer in the truck, and picked up two more people who were hitching to Beirut and thereabouts. It is the most beautiful road, running all the way along the sea. The Mediterranean was picture post card blue all the way, and the sky too. The frontier is quite near Haifa, only about 30 miles North. You go through Acre on the way, and there are the remains of several old crusading castles on the way. The best one is further inland though and we didn't see it. It really is a fascinating part of the world, also there is an intact Roman viaduct, just I think North of the frontier, running for some miles. There are the remains of so many civilisations   superimposed on others. Acre is nice little town, with lovely blue shutters, (R.A.F. paint!) Inland of course you can see the hills towering right up. All the lower hills are terraced, and they grow anything there. It is incredible how they do it. And it all looks so barren, it must be very hard work, but of course the climate is so perfect. We reached Beirut about 12, and then spent an hour looking for petrol, and tearing round the town, I think it is a beautiful town, it has such a marvellous situation. It is built on a spit right out into the sea, and has hills leading straight up behind it to a mountain behind of something between 10,000 and 12,000 feet, whose name I can't remember, anyway it is Church Mountain translated. It had a couple of thousand feet of snow or so on it. It was all so clean and light and well built after Egypt. I should love to go and stay there sometime. Oh I completely forgot, we passed through Tyre and Sidon. Tell you about this in the next one of these.


                                         7:l:'44.
   Continuation. Tyre we couldn't go into, being out of bounds to H.B.M.'s forces. But from road it looked just an ordinary little Arab village. The Sq. Ldr we were with said that there is quite a big chunk of the old Phoenician quay left there. Sorry we couldn't see it. Sidon was just another little fishing village. The drive from Beirut to Tripoli is magnificent. The foothills come right down to the sea and in the little valleys there are miles of orange groves, with banana palms in between all the trees. It looked lovely, the oranges were all ripe and orange on the trees. I can't tell you how it fascinated me seeing these miles of plantations of fruit one never expects to see growing side by side. The bananas too were all ripe, but they are picked when green. The road is bad from the point of view of land slips all along the coast, and the tunnel just this side Tripoli suffers. We had lunch at Tripoli, a nice and surprisingly large town, clean and with great big wide streets. There were dozens of little sailing ships, obviously trading around out from Tripoli, schooners, they looked so pretty against the post card sea. We fed at the Officers Club, the best in the neighbourhood. Very pleasant, all covered in Xmas decorations. Then bought some bananas and started off again. North of Tripoli, it gets terribly lonely and barren, nothing for miles, it is in the region of 100 to l20miles to Latakia the next town. We gradually got from orange and banana country to the olive and vine, though mostly the latter. The people become very interesting, Kurds I think, they all have black breeches, like your country suit Daddy, in drab looking stuff and coloured jerkins, and blacket loose jackets and peculiar high hats, and of course all muffled in coloured shawls. And of course all on the ubiquitous donkeys. It got dark about 25 miles this side Latakia, and we had to drive with a blacked out headlamp. The man was a fool, Donald wanted him to go round by Homs and Hamma, doing all the wiggly bit through the mountains in daylight and the straight at night, also it is shorter, also to take off the mask as there is no blackout in Aleppo, but he wouldn't. It is a further 125 miles from Lafakia to Aleppo. The  road is very bad and twisting for the first 50 miles or so. It goes through Jist  es Chagour and Idlib, if you want to look it up. All these odd villages are so much better than Egypt, they had pressure (?) lamps burning in the bigger villages, though there was no-one about, and so we could see, but the houses seem more permanent, and don’t smell like Egyptian. My goodness it is a lonely road, we were glad that there were three of us. Jisr es Chagour is almost on the frontier. At about 10 when we were wondering whenever we were going  get there, about 30 miles from Alep Donald recognised Otis civilian car, supplied by H.M.'s Govt. flashing by, we yelled, and it stopped, turned out to be his Armenian driver Fuad sent out to look for us. We were relieved. I went on with him and Donald had to stay behind with the Sq. Ldr. as he was nearly asleep. Otis was terribly thrilled to see us, and thrust a drink at me to warm me up, and we dashed around madly breaking eggs, and preparing food, we hadn't had anything since lunch except bananas. Scrambled eggs with turkey giblets, and onion mixed in at 12.0, lovely. The house was full, a man in the navy, Otis, Michael Pelloe, a Capt., with whom he shares the house, and us. All the services. It took us hours to get to bed of course. Finally we managed it about 1-30 on Xmas morning so happy to be there. In spite of the length I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, is so interesting, and such a beautiful day. Normally, by train, from Haifa to Tripoli takes the day, and one night from Tripoli to Alep. (Alep French).
         We had a heavenly late breakfast, lots of English sized eggs, and loads of toast and marmalade. Getting up was a very lengthy business, Syria is French as you know, and the French I have never thought are the most sanitary nation. Otis has one bathroom in his house, with everything in it, except a bath, but as you know out here, one always has showers. There is a cistern in it, and you light a wood fire underneath, and the thing heats surprisingly quickly. Well as there were five of us to have showers, and all but me to shave, getting up took half the morning. It of course wasn't a bit like Xmas, but was lots of fun. We went out to a sherry party or two in the morning where everyone said that they  had heard how late we arrived last night etc. News there beats radio for speed, considering that we hadn't let Otis know until lunch time of Xmas eve that we were on our way. Everyone was sweet to us. Then about 1-0 we all went back to Otis house, the army navy and R.A.F. where Otis was entertaining 26 of his officers and men to Xmas dinner, and another girl, a civilian. As it was for Otis unit, we had a riotously funny time having dinner on Michael's bed, with everyone dashing in and out to see us all the time. Donald of course was with us. We were let in to listen to the king at whatever time it was. I had by then lost all count of time, as my watch had gone haywire with the sudden change in climate. (It has now recovered again, and adjusted itself.) They had no sooner started going about 4-15, and I had just collected a cup of tea for myself from the cook, when 20 more people arrived. Must tell you about lunch, we had three turkeys, which were mostly cooked down at the cookhouse, at some camp, and then brought along all steaming to be finished here. Cauliflower cabbage, potatoes and bread sauce, all divinely cooked and hot, and Xmas puddings and lots of brandy butter, all on 3 repeat 3 primuses. By Jean, Otis Armenian cook, his one servant, more of him later, and his chief clerk, whose sister is a chef! It was a delicious lunch. To continue, we had no sooner got rid of the first lot, than the second bunch arrived. Headed by the A.P.M, Odd officers and men. And also the entertainments officer for the area, a charming man, he used to run the Dorchester cabaret, or whatever they have, some job like that, together with his piano. A lovely idea to


                                     7:1:'44.              M.E.F.

         Continuation: third letter card.
The man with the piano. He is a wonderful pianist, and just played everything everyone asked, and some variety people wanted played too. He also some charming songs of his own, then Otis
 sang. He has a most beautiful voice. In the middle, the area commander turned up, a red tab Col. A priceless old boy, about 50 Daddy! Regular army of course. Royal Scots Fusiliers. HQ is just like an overplayed part in a burlesque. He is about 5 10, and fairly squarely built, with great bushy eyebrows which rush up and down, and lovely Victorian manners, and a big bristly moustache, which he makes pshawing noises through. He was pleased to see Donald again. Last time Donald was up, his officers told him, that Charlie, the Col. had just stamped out of the mess, saying "Mince, gentlemen, is a luncheon dish..." at dinner time. I thought they were being funny till I saw Charlie. He was very charming to me, all the time we were in Alep, and I like him. Finally about 9.0 Otis, Donald and I staggered off worn out for a quiet dinner in the French Club.
     The next day was another round of parties, and in the afternoon Otis
 drove us, with another friend of his round Alep. It is a fascinating town, quite the most interesting I think I have ever been in, it is so much less commercialised, and not full of troops. It is a town of half a million people, lying in the cup of a valley, with the sides rising all round it to a plateau top. Right in the centre, about 200 (?) feet above the town is the citadel. Just the citadel. It looks magnificent when the sun is rising or setting and just illuminating these white ruins with the town in darkness. That afternoon we went up to the Turkish barracks, to the West of the city, and on the slope of the hill to see the sunset over the citadel. Magnificent. Before that we went round the Armenian Quarter. Lots of massacres there right up till 1923, the last one to date. Little narrow streets, just wide enough for the car to squeeze through. Little winding passages leading off them, with doors, beautiful wrought iron, opening into courtyards. Oh it is incredible. All so much nicer than the filth and commercialism of Egypt. We were of course the only Europeans. It is all very clean, and the houses are built of stone. They all have the most beautiful little balconies, with wrought iron railings round them and over the windows. We saw the grilles being made in the Souks (same as the Musky.) As it was Xmas, Otis and Donald, and the other man we had with us, all clambered out of the car, when we came across some children playing with a football, and joined in. We or rather they, started with about 6 kids, and ended with all the neighbourhood! The children adored it! I shall always remember football in the Armenian quarter of Alep on Xmas day, sorry Boxing Day, in a tiny narrow little street. Of course they all know Otis everywhere you go. He is known as the father of moustaches, whatever that is in arabic, I forget. The density of population there is some thing terrific. They all live about five to a room. I can't understand why it isn't dirtier.
      Well I am going to get some food now, and will get on with this later. The trouble is, that I can go on for pages and pages, I was so impressed with Syria
, and Alep in particular.




  8:1:'44.
     The next day being Monday, we went in the morning to see the Citadel. With one Lt. Munier, Otis
' Cypriot Turk interpreter, educated at Saint Pauls! The citadel is built on a big man made mound, partly remains of earlier peoples as we could see by the excavations that were going on. The whole of the sides of the mound are paved with great big chunks of rock. It has of course been sacked by everyone under the sun, the last being Tamerlaine I think. It has the most beautiful great doorway, with enormous wrought iron doors, Donald took a lot of photographs of it, I hope they will come out. Such a beautiful day with very deep blue sky. That day too we had lunch with the area commander, he asked us on Xmas day. We had a complete triumph as he paid for all three of us, and apparently he never does, just whispers Dutch old boy, at the last minute. It is not as bad as it sounds as he gets no entertainment allowance at all, and has to do such a lot being in such a focal point. Bodies are always passing through going somewhere. After that we went and looked at the Souks, the bazaar of Alep. The are completely roofed in and guarded against attack, great gates at all the entrances. They are fascinating. But really remarkably few things that one could buy. They cater for the peasants not the Europeans. But we bought some heavenly brocade, stiff silver and silk, scarlet and silver design. I am going to have it made into a sort of jacket, with a high neck and long sleeves sometime when I come home. Alep and Damascus are of course the two famous places for brocade. I wish I had been the type to have a whole frock, lucky I am not as it is about £3 a metre, or more. I love all the copper and brass stuff, but it would mostly look so unsuitable at home. Another time, when we went Donald bought a sheepskin coat rather like yours Daddy, only a proper coat, and me a big heavy cast silver bracelet. But I think the best thing we bought is 5 kilos of raisins at a £1 Syrian a kilo, that is, don't worry, about 2/3! Donald has got these and is going to send them off to you and the Maitlands and Aunt Bee whenever he can. I love the idea of going to Alep to buy raisins, it is beautiful. They had beautiful walnuts too which we bought every time we went, the nicest I have ever had. The Souks inside are very much the same as the Musky, one central covered in street, with the streets belonging to the various trades leading off it, the spice merchants etc. The spices smelt beautiful, all being pounded. To be continued again, this is the third effort, I don't see any hope of finishing in less than 5.

66
                                  8:11'44.
 The day after that, Tuesday, Otis
 took us out to the Turkish border, following the railway, for lunch. It was a magnificent trip, with the best view for hundreds of miles at the end of at. Out from Aleppo the country is very flat and there are quite a number of beehive village, the huts look just like beehives, and gradually it gets wilder and wilder, and you climb. We had lunch on the slopes going down to the Orontes valley, looking across to the Amanus mountains. It is the most wonderful view in the world. The wide flat valley floor, about 15 miles across, and then the high snow capped mountains, Turkey. There are panther, wild boar and olives there, but we didn't see any unfortunately.
     The next day some Americans arrived Otis
 had to show around, and so we went too, and they offered us a lift in their D.C.3 back to Cairo, well, we didn't know what to, and finally decided to accept it, and go back on the Thursday, the train takes 48 hours, and is ghastly. But, that a.m. the weather clamped down, and they had to go off in staff cars to Beirut, and we after a lot of hanging around didn't set off till Monday, which was much nicer, though we had to go a bit of hanging round wondering if the weather would break, we couldn't get over the Lebanon as the visibility was nil, and much more n.b. there were no de-icers on the plane. We did not do much the last few days, but had a nice restful time, and ate masses of Jean's heavenly food, how he does it is beyond us, in the usual style in this part of the world, he has two primuses. We had four courses lunches and dinners every day, and they were beautiful, so well cooked and laid out. Lovely soufflés, and the most delicious turkey and other varieties of soup. Otis knows how to eat! We just sent into raptures about the food, it is such a lovely change after here, where the have good food, but they don't seem to know what to do with it.
      Alep is the most interesting town, it is the centre of the camel routes from Turkey, the Euphrates, Persia and Iraq, everywhere you could see the camel trains coming in, all along the sides of the roads. The people were all beautifully buffled up with them, Kurds, wearing just double squares of sheep skin, with their elbows sticking into two of the corners, or sometimes little sleeves and the slightly better off ones had exactly the same shaped garment of   natural coarse camel hair to go over it. Prawn, one of Otis
' officers, had the most lovely sheep skin coat, backed with this camel hair. You need it it is very cold there. Until the weather clamped down we had quite sharp frosts at night.   I wore my blue stockings, my trousers, or a skirt


my camel hair coat, and either my cashmere, or angora jersey and a cardigan! However when the weather broke it was warmer. It was nice being  cold though for a change. Needless to say I put on weight.
   _Then on the Monday we finally took off. It was a marvellous journey from the point of view of seeing things. First the plateau on which Alep stands, with miles and miles of olive groves and vineyards. I love olive trees, and then we were in cloud, and didn't come out till just north of Tripoli. Flew right above them. Beautiful, as I told you, the pilot was nice, and let me sit in the second pilots seat nearly all the way, so I had a good view. I enjoyed myself enormously. You can see the country as a whole so much better from the air. We just touched down for a few minutes at Beirut and Lidda, and then the pilot kindly dropped us on Donald's aerodrome. We left at ll45 and landed finally at 2-30.
    And that was the end of leave. Incredible depressing, We spent the night at Ismailia
 and I caught a train back to Cairo the next morning, which took me rather longer than it had taken to get from Alep to Ismailia. It was a heavenly fortnight, Donald was so delighted too to be able to spend Xmas with Otis, so was I. Apart from anything else he knows every one in Alep, and rules the place. Everyone was so sweet and kind to us. The thing about this that I couldn't get over was being on very chummy terms with the A.P.M.! A person not generally given his due I now feel! He was a great friend of Otis. I do so hope though next Xmas we will all be together again. It is not the same festival spent in odd corners of the world. I do hope that you really had a lovely day. I thought of you a lot, and hoped that at least you were having the same lovely that we were. I could easily imagine you when we were listening to the King's speech doing the same thing. Donald and I were very lazy over the New Year, and just went to bed! Awful confession, but I was tired, we had had a hectic day enjoying ourselves! Then we had a fat dinner, and as usual I overate, and got sleepy. In fact when I had gone to sleep standing up they decided it was about time I departed! To think last year I was on embarkation leave, I was now too, I think. We left on 16 as you know. Donald will soon have been here two years.

     I am going to answer all your letters and thank you etc on an airgraph, I simply cannot get any more of these, we pinched these from Alan when we stayed at the flat the night our leave began. He was in Italy at the time, will have to confess when I see him I fear. I am sure though he never uses his. No wife, no family much. You will have to forgive me all the mistakes I have made in typing, but they are such a lot to re-read. My spelling isn't really bad, it is my typing.

     Incidentally we have bought Carol Ann rather a nice 3 carat blue aquamarine, but how to get it home is at present beyond us. Thought it was about time we bought her something to keep, and as Bunch is potty about then, hope she will be to in her turn. It is unmounted, then 3 can do as she pleases, anyway English setting are so much nicer. See next airgraph which I shall write to-night or to-morrow a.m. for all latest dope, this is only leave stuff. Hope it isn't too boring. I have burbled rather.



19:1:44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,
     These are the photographs. The latest. Am afraid some are very bad. Donald underexposed the Aleppo
 ones badly. He's very annoyed. The Ismailia ones are good though, except of me! Still they show how nice it is. Some of the Aleppo ones are good. Nearly all the views taken from the tip of the Minaret you can see in some of the photographs.
    I am also enclosing a map of Cairo, if I can find one. It might interest you. I hope this is allowed! Still it is an ordinary tourist one and I should think it is.
    Will get Donald to censor these when he comes. The ones of the border are terribly bad too I am afraid. Where the back came undone again. Such a pity as it is the most wonderful view I have ever seen. Lots of love.


HOTTEST MONTH FOR 35 YEARS.

(Cutting in folder of letters)

 

NEWS is now officially released that October this year was the hottest October that Egypt has had for thirty-five years. In Cairo it was the most sultry month since 1887.

    There were slight electric storms during the first few days of the month, and more violent ones in the fourth week. At Helwan the night of the 23rd October was the hottest for the month in question within living memory.

   On this night, the temperature did not drop below 86 deg. Fahrenheit. On the 3rd as reported before, Cairo had its hottest October day for 75 vears, with a temperature of 112 ° Fahrenheit.

In Alexandria, the hottest recorded was 102. These figures are 25 degrees above normal for the time of the year.

   At Tanta on October 10th nearly three quartets of an inch of rain fell.
   A second heat wave hit Cairo on the 13th and 14th, when a top temperature of 102 was recorded. By the 20th, it had dropped to normal but weather became stormy, and rain fell at Damieta and Alexandria
.

  Towards the end of the month north-east winds started and the temperature went up again.

 

 

  Food by Parachute to Stranded Train

Haifa, Wednesday - Food had to be dropped by parachute from R.A.F. aircraft   this morning to passengers in a train which was marooned on Monday night by  the worst sandstorm experienced in recent years in the Sinai Desert.
   The operation was carried out near Romana, some 40 kms north of Kantara, where the train is stranded among large sand-dunes over 40 inches high blown against  the railway tracks.
  The parachute rations  will last the passengers for 48 hours, but it is hoped to free the train within the next 12 hours.

 Other Trains Stranded   
   Other trains cut off by the sand storm included the regular Haifa
-Cairo one which left here on Monday and was stranded at Bir el Abd, 33 kilometres north of Kantara on Monday night and is still held up there.
     Passengers on the former train have been supplied with food by an R.A.F. detachment and by a relief works train. It is hoped to clear the train tonight and it will then be towed back to Gaza. A works train is also attempting to bring  relief to the stranded train near Romana and have already cleared the line up to  some 33 kms from Kantara. It is expected that it will succeed in cutting through the remaining five kms of sand some time tonight.
    An army of some 600 work-men is engaged on the clearance work and contact with the isolated trains is being maintained over the railway telegraph system.
    Apart from the three blocked trains, an engine was derailed by sand at Kilo 353, and the crew is stranded in mid-desert.
    The clearing work is hampered by the changing wind conditions, which often blow sand back into the cuts dug through the sand banks. Depending on wind conditions, it is hoped to clear the line by tomorrow when traffic will be restored to normal.

67

9:1:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      I am getting a little more organised after leave now. Have just collected Bunch's picture from being framed, it looks lovely. She is a beautiful child. I am now going to deal with all the letters that I got when I got back from leave. A marvellous collection. The parcel couldn’t be more exciting and nicer, it was just like undoing my stocking! Everything in it was exactly what I wanted. No exaggeration really! I am writing of course to Nanny and Mrs Jones. I am reading the Idle Countryman at the moment. It sounds so lovely and like home after this country. It is so beautifully got up. Thank you for it. The flapjack and powder puff I am of course delighted with. Did I tell that my old one that you put in my stocking I should think 5 years ago, gave up the ghost when it got submerged in Aboukir Bay? The zip came off it. Of course you can't get any scented soap here, and I adore it.... I like to smell my hands when they are washed with nice soap! Toothpaste and toothbrushes become harder and harder to get and more and more expensive.... And of course the fudge.... I haven't tasted anything so lovely since I last had some. I can't stop eating it. I am nobly trying till Donald comes down next weekend. But it is so naughty of you to send it to me, I sent the food back for you, not to be returned in the shape of fudge, much as I love it. It was a lovely parcel, and the wrapping added to it! However did you get all the cellophane? I have still got all my Xmas cards out they add colour to the room. It has white walls, and a beige stone floor, and white window frames, or would if clean. So it is very cold looking.

     I am quite frozen nowadays. My hands are chapped! Yet when I came back from Alep for two days I wandered around in my shirt sleeves, to the horror of everyone. Alep is about like England! Now I am my thin blooded Middle East self again! Did I tell you that now I have to wear the Desert Sore, ie. The Africa Star? It is causing a lot of hilarity among Donald's RAF chums, the RAF haven't been issued with theirs yet. I am longing to for Donald's hilarious face when he sees it! He does not know yet. The visual affect will be much funnier! Of course the trouble is, with the cold I mean, that there is no heating anywhere much. A great many of the flats don’t even have fireplaces, and anyway wood is wildly expensive. And we don’t get a scrap of hot water, which makes life a little trying. But I just don’t wash much, and go down to the club every afternoon and have a shower. I am so will in with the female there, she even offered to dry my clothes if I liked to wash them! I do! Continued on next.


68

9:1:'44

Continued. I do love the way Carol Ann loved the Xmas tree. It must be fascinating to a child to see the candles blazing. I am longing to have dinner with a fire and candles again.

   I have got three letters from each of you to answer, three when I got back from leave, and three arrived on the 6th. Yours Daddy of 13 17 and 27, ie 36 37 38. Glad you met Phillis Goods to find out about 5.S.I. Coy. I was completely tied. Poor girl, she must be fed up. XXXX[36] is not a very thrilling place at the best of times. I am so very glad about Harry, there is practically no one I can think of I would rather had been posted home. I do hope that Janette will be able to be with him. She deserves it after all this time. A very good job, still I am sure he is very capable. Poor Daddy, the HG must be getting more and more difficult to organise with no action after all this time.

    Daddy, I am awfully worried about you paying off my overdraft. Both Donald and I wish you wouldn’t. Really. I appreciate it and all that, but it isn't necessary, I have still about £35 credit out here, apart from Donald's allowance, and my pay, and won't want any  of my own money again for ages. Well several months anyway. It would pay itself off nicely.

    I am awfully glad that all the things I sent seem to have arrived more of less safely. I have forgotten what I did send now, it is so long ago. But I keep a careful record. How lucky the cable arriving on Xmas day, I was awfully afraid that it would be late, as the post Cpl didn’t get it off for a day or two. How terrific, another concert party. Aren't the Whiles in it?

     This is the seventh letter I have written you since I came back on Tuesday. Today being Sat. I do feel awful though not writing to you while we were away. I think the only time was in the hairdresser's! I was very sorry that we never saw anything much of Palestine, especially Jerusalem. There just wasn’t time, the distances are too great. We just will have to go there next time that's all. I am determined to before I leave the M.E. Though I couldn’t have enjoyed leave more I must say. We did see such a terrific lot.

     I saw Len Wesson yesterday. I went down to pay him my club sub. He is secretary of the officer's mess here, and we join the Sporting Club here through it. Kind of them to allow me to, it saves quite a lot. Will I had better start another page.


69  

9:1:'44

 

Third page. Your three letters were 15 and two on Boxing Day Mummy. Glad to hear that Rex Manby and Joan Fullerton can get married at last. Incidentally, I saw a lovely photograph of Pat Hawkins in the Tatler. But I still don’t like the man much. I am so pleased that you still had a nice Xmas day. You know it seems no time since we were all together two years ago. God I am longing for it again. How beautiful having a goose, I had one in Alep, but you now doubt remember Middle East birds! All scrag. Oh dear it is dreadful everyone all split up. I feel a swine having XMAS with Otis, when I know how Peggy would have adored to, and Joan White without her Peter, and Bunch and us. I had a pathetic letter from Buff. How lovely the miniature sounds. I should like to see Pug Adshead, but how to locate hike is almost beyond me. Must consult my spies!

    I that the money you sent me has arrived Mummy. There was a note from the bank when I got back saying would I call. But it was the Cairo Branch, so I went down to Helio and told them to let me know. But I have mentioned the local post before! It is terribly sweet of you. I don’t quite know what I will buy. I am trying to make Donald buy some desert boots with his, which we found waiting for us when we got back, he never buys anything for himself, but masses for me. I got some beautiful brocade as I told you in Alep, which is really form you. Silver and scarlet. Well I have just about written myself out now. I must write to Bunch too. And Peggy. And masses of people. But I think I had better cope with them first. Otis had got some delicious new pictures of the children dressed up as H.G.'s. Pegs made them battledresses. I saw Ragan's, but not Colin's. He carries it in his cigarette case, and shows it proudly to everyone.

     I shall have some boiled eggs for supper tonight. Must have some thing, to keep warm. I opened the tea last night, it was so good after NAAFI tea, which is horrid. Tea is unprocurable here, except on the Black Bourse, which does a roaring trade, in most things,

     Well I shall stop babbling now, and go and find an iron, all my things want ironing now after leave. I don’t like to trust them to the Dhobi. I think they would dirty them if you stood over them and watched even!

     With lots and lots of love and a happy new year. 

 


71

 

                              15:1:'44.            M.E.F.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        I am terribly pleased to hear about Bunch having another baby, I think it is an excellent idea. The children will then be about the same distance apart as we are. So much  nicer. I had a letter from her about two days before I had yours Mummy. I am very glad. I hope it will all be as successful and nice as Carol Ann was. Do you hope it will be a boy this time? B. didn't say.

   I have got no news at all to tell you. I don't know what is happening at all about commissions, Mrs Player told Nancy about two days ago that we were having a board at the end of the month, a three day affair, the first. It would be. I can almost automatically count myself out I think. All intelligence tests. I must say I would give almost anything on this earth to be right, out of the A.T.S, so would most other people I know.

  Donald is coming up at lunch time, or sometime before tea time. Thank goodness. It will be lovely, we are staying with Stanley as usual. They have a fire, about the only one in Egypt! We will be warm. Donald has to come up for his shower, they only have cold water where he is, and so he dashed straight to the club for a shower. I hope we will go the Musky to-morrow morning, I want to buy a big clip or some earrings with my Xmas money. Can't quite make up my mind. Do hope we shall be able to manage it, but I expect Donald is due for a heavy session at M.E. he hasn't been to pay them a call for about a month. I sit in one of the local cafes and drink masses of coffee and eat sticky cakes. I am sorry this is so bad, my hands are frozen. I am v. amused, someone has just been up to Assiut for leave but it was very cold, 56 during the day, which it is here at least. And I am wearing two jerseys and my jacket, and lots of people are wearing greatcoats! It rained yesterday. For quite two hours on and off. Horrid.

     I simply can't believe that Brian and Helen Willcock are engaged. I can only remember Brian as a baby: I suppose I had better write to Helen. Glad you heard from Merriall at Xmas, who is v. good and writes to me quite often. I miss all my old friends like her very much. I like a lot of the females here, but not nearly so much. Poor Marion is having trouble about getting home. I told you her husband had gone home? I don't think she will make it, which is a pity anyway because I wanted her to bring you some things, photos, and Carol Ann's aquamarine.

     I have had quite a number of letters this week, a very sweet one from Miss Pybus amongst others. And one from each of you Daddy, no 39 and Mummy, of Jan 4. I know what I meant to tell you, in one of the Times you sent me there were some very interesting articles on the Lebanon and also pictures of Aleppo! Very pleasant as I have just come back. There was a very bad photograph of the citadel, I hope Donald's will be better. Glad that you are putting in some apples. (Isn't it nice someone has just brought me a delicious doughnut from the village, and I was feeling so hungry as usual at elevenses!) What are you putting in, mixed cooking and eating? I always watch out for your locks, and I saw some in a little shop in Aleppo, where we were buying hooks for Otis curtains, in the Souks! Also, Leslie the girl I was at Bredenbury with, has one on the door of her flat!

   What a pity the cake didn't arrive in time for Xmas, I hoped it would. I posted it in time. I hear too the Maitlands had the one Donald sent. I hope Donald has sent the raisins we carted some 600 miles with us! The bag burst naturally. I was very annoyed the top blew off a bottle of throat paint in the plane, and went all over the Cecil Beaton book and the bag but nothing else, height tends to do that, our pens all leaked too. I have managed to save a bit of fudge for Donald. It has been a struggle! It might have been made yesterday. Travelled beautifully. I must give him some toothpaste too, his family sent some, but, it seems to have got lost. I tried to get some in Cairo but there wasn't any. Do you know I can see the difference in colour in mine using different stuff.

    I don't think there is any more to tell you at the minute.


72

18:1:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      I am afraid there just isn't a scrap of news to tell you. The weekend got rather wrecked as I got the most shattering tummy ache on Saturday night. So we had a very quiet time. An awful nuisance. So I am going to hitch down to Ismailia and see Donald this weekend. I am going to see the gynaecologist on Monday. I have been before, but there is nothing wrong, it is the climate and the general life. But Donald has got worried. The nice one has unfortunately gone home, Col. Keller. I used to see him at the club sometimes. Don’t know what the new one is like. But he is the only person who can issue some fancy drug.

      No mail this week except the Times of Nov 10, which I am just reading. Had tea at the club as usual, with Mimi, she and Stanley are engaged. I am very glad. She is very sweet. But are not going to get married till after the war as he is a fighter pilot, and only resting from Ops, and anyway it is his job in life. He has a permanent commission. It should be very successful, they have known each other very well nearly all the time I have been out here.

      I have after long cogitation, decided to spend most of my Xmas money on some aquamarine earrings. I have been longing for ages for some. You can get them so much better out here, and oddly enough I don’t think they are much inflated in price. I think it is a much nicer idea than frittering it away. There is a trustworthy shop in Ismailia, and Donald is going to get some for me to look at next weekend. I am frightfully thrilled with the idea. Just quite plane square stones, about 2 carats. I think they are really worth buying out here.

     I suddenly decided I must do some knitting this afternoon, as I bought some baby wool and am knitting a matinee jacket, which will probably arrive home sometime. I haven't done any for ages. I love just sitting and knitting. I have to go down to the club this afternoon as it is so much too cold in the billet, and I could knot there. In the evening there is an oil stove which is better than nothing, I suppose.

     I am awfully sorry I don’t feel a bit like letter writing, and you know my letters are hopeless if I don’t.

     The first paragraph sound awful! I like having a quiet weekend, but I don’t like feeling awful as well! I do hope you aren't having too bad a winter. The pages never mention it. Anyway relieved that you have sufficient fuel. Will write again at the end of the week, there will possibly be some mail in then.

Lots and lots of love.


73    21:1:'44.

M.E.F.

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

          Have just been having lunch with Pug Adshead! I got a wonderful letter from him addressed Mrs Maitland att. 5.S.I. Coy. and the name of this village! Anywhere it got here in a day. I rung him up yesterday, and had lunch with him to-day at Gezira, where he normally feeds. Donald turned up too, so I took him along, it was v. pleasant. He seems to have got a very interesting job. He will be here about a month more, and so Donald and I are going out with him one night when Donald comes down again. He had got a new photo of Margie and June, June is quite grown up and very attractive I should think. He of course wanted to know about you. He knew Mrs Player in Palestine, and has been avoiding her like the Plague ever since. He was v. funny  about her. She is an arrant snob and the more pips the better, so of course she adores Pug! He was going to write in great amusement to Margie that she was my officer!

 I rung Donald up last night and he said he might be down for a spot of work with his C.0. this a.m.. I never thought he would be, but he was. They had already been to Alex, and done some business there and arrived at Heliopolis at 12-0! By Baltimore. I am supposed to be going down to Ismailia to-morrow for my day off, at least night and morning, but Donald may be going to Palestine again, which will be disappointing. I didn't tell you did I, that last week, he went to Palestine, Syria, i.e. hear Baalbec and then Jerusalem. I am so jealous. He rushes all over the shop. I want to buy my Xmas present too, my earrings. I shan't know whether I can go till to-morrow lunch time. I have to call at Stan's flat on the way to hitching down to see if he his got a message from Donald to say don't come. He, Donald can't get into touch with me at all, which is most inconvenient.

   I had tea with Kit yesterday in her new flat, the WRNS having a baby in May, she shares it with another WRNS also In the same condition. She dolloped me out a pound to buy her wool and knit madly. Baby wool is 4/- an ounce. She knows  someone who is flying home in a fortnight, or so, and so I shall send something for Carol Ann and the new one by him.

  I have had no mail from you for nearly a fortnight. I suppose that this is probably because there is the appalling gap in mine while I was on leave; I had a Times this evening though, of November 26.

   I am all alone in the office with little work to do. Everyone has gone off to that asinine thing ABCA. I object very strongly to going to a compulsory political meeting given by a member of political body to which I do not belong, ie socialists or communists. Not that all alone means anything. There is normally only me and three men. Two have half days, and the other has sacrificed himself and gone. I can hear Rufus' voice next door, she evidently hasn't gone either! I bought a small box of Turkish Delight this evening. We have been

gorging. I haven't had any for ages.

    I am mostly engaged in hoping that Donald won't go to Palestine to-morrow, but will wait till Monday. This was meant to be prefaced by the statement that there was no news. My life is a big struggle not to ask Donald to come down here more often than he ought.  I try terribly hard, and Donald said the other day quite out of the blue that I was very good and never did. I don't think I do interfere with his work at all though. He has Sunday off every week, and he only comes here for one of those. Very occasionally he drops in for a meal as he did to-day, while the C.0. was at M.E., or an odd night on the way somewhere. Of course as he says, pilots can go away for weeks and no one notices, but everyone always wants the engineer. He is the only one for the unit and its detachments, so he has to go everywhere and always be on tap. He is also transport officer. They have a fair amount of M.T. I suppose. I know I am very lucky to be in the same country but after 2 and a bit years, we are a little tired of week-ends.  

    I will probably add a p.c. to this depending on whether I go tomorrow or not.

Handwritten: I did go for the weekend, but Donald stuck this up before I ever finished it.


 

No. 74 part 1:2:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

     Just had a letter from you Mummy, thank you, of Jan 14. I was afraid that would happen that there would be a get big gap without letters while I was on leave! I am sorry, it was very naughty of me. It ought to have heard very soon after that letter was written though. Have just been down have in my usual Monday washday down at the club! I just take all my laundry down there and wash it as we never have any hot water, there was a notice up saying that for the Prevention of some disease, all A.T.S. must have one hot shower a week, as an order, where they expect people to have it I wouldn't know, I have one every day it though. But I think it is an absolute essential, one can't be expected to keep clean in cold water in this weather, apart from washing one's clothes.

     I had a lovely night down at Ismailia, I took a taxi to Treaty Bridge where all the roads meet going out of Helio and Cairo to the canal area, and just as I got out a truck drew up and picked it up and took me as far as Tel el Kebir, it was very slow unfortunately and they stopped on the way for a cup of tea, of which I was glad, as I had no lunch. Then just as I got out of that an Indian Army major gave me a lift in another truck. He was charming and took me right to the YWCA where I wanted to go, though he wasn't even going into Ismailia. He was so nice and polite, which is such a change from nearly all the [censored] attitude to the A.T.S., not that I blame them particularly. Then we had a nice fat tea, and a hot bath, at the Palace Hotel were all Ismailia goes on Saturday night for the weekly hot bath, as far as I can see!  I felt nice in ordinary clothes. We had dinner there with someone Donald knew at Sealand, way back! Then went to a dance in the Sergeants Mess at Donald station or rather of  another unit on the station. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a good dance well-organised, Donald's O.R.'s seemed to be nice types, and were frightfully pleased Daddy had come and brought me! I have never danced so much in my life, I never managed to get more than once round the room with one person. Donald's C.O. offered to take me home the next a.m. by plane, so did his deputy, it was a gay party! We held them to it! Donald went off to Palestine and the next a.m. at about 10-30 and I had some elevenses and then went off in a Fulmer[37], here. I had to sit at the back in the Observer's seat, and couldn't see as I had no helmet, which was a pity. It was nice and warm out there, heat seen the coming up from somewhere, and the sun shone in. It only took half an hour. Took me as long to get out of the aerodrome! It was very kind of Dick ?? Donald's CO. He just dumped me, and went back, saved me such a lot of trouble,
74 Part 2

 

and was pleasant journey. Am now allowed to fly legitimately, thank goodness. All leave personnel, including women are third priority. It saved such a lot if time. I then went and had a drink at the club with Stan and Mimi, and then lunch with some BOAC people. A the nice weekend. Donald was only going up to Palestine for the day I think. He will be back today anyway.

   Had just had some lovely enlargements of Ragan and Colin and Peggy. They are beautiful children. I do hope they won't have forgotten me when I get home. I don't think Ragan will. I must write to them. I do hope Birt won't forget me too.

   Had quite a nice day to day, had lunch with Lesley and a nice civilian female, with whom I was at Bredenbury, and then tea with Kit, it ex WRNS, in her flat. I did some stooping for her, remembering that Bunch liked people to stoop for her! She was as usual knitting wildly.

    I really wanted to go down to [censor] and phone Donald tonight, though I can't find anyone who is prepared to wait while I phone, it takes about half an hour, I can't go by myself. Maddening. I would so much rather anyway. Incidentally Donald has at long last conceded that I do see well in the dark, and can drive in the blackout better than he can! We always used to quarrel about this! I can see the dark quite well, and even judge distances, of cars I mean. I'm having a do to make him buy a new hat. His is the most filthy old thing you can imagine, and was greatly improved when it blew off the other day when they were taking off at Alex, and it blew into a salt pan. I think this mission failed before it started. It always seems to be the RAF ambition to get the oldest dirtiest and oiliest hat!

     There just doesn't seem to be anything to say, I have dried up completely. The [censor] cleaned my buttons at the Falcon Hotel pinched my African star, isn't it mean? Now I shall have to buy another. Perhaps I could win one. It was only pinned on my tunic.
     I had a Times too this evening of Dec 1, but I haven't looked at it yet.  Donald might be coming up for 48 hours over the weekend. It would be heavenly. Didn't of course have anytime off this weekend when I went there. Not that that counts but still. He usually has Sunday off, but they get one long weekend a month. We should too, but for some unknown reason we don't. Sorry, my hatred for the A.T.S. increases daily, if it could increase. There is no more news of commissions. Shouldn't be surprised if the authorities haven't either stopped or restricted them on the quiet. Lot of love, don't worry over the A.T.S. though, Donald's here so I can cope.



27:1:'44

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      Well I'd better start and tell you all news which seems quite plentiful this week. First of all, on Tuesday night, about 11-0, Rufus wandered into my room to say had I heard the news, that she and I are to go to a selection board this Sunday night, lasting one week, and living in Kasr el Nil Barracks. This is to see if one is fit to go on to an OCTU. A ridiculous farce and palaver I think. I was quite shattered when I heard this. I want to get a commission, but the thought of all the torture that one has to go through for a very doubtful joys of being an A.T.S. officer frighten the life out of me. To have to live in Kasr el Nil Barracks for a week my God... The really puzzling thing is why only Rufus and I going. Rufus I understand, as she's getting an I Corps Commission, but lots of other people applied with me. The only bright spot nearly is that I am immensely flattered by this. I thought I might survive and get through with a number of people nearly as unsuitable, and who disliked it all nearly as much as I'd do, but how I shall pass now is beyond me. Whatever they can do with one for a week I can't imagine. It is dreadful to grumble I suppose we have the chance at long last of getting a commission, but the weeks ahead so appal me. Rufus of course  will love it from beginning to end, she is a happy, hearty hockey girl, though very sweet, and will I know be as sweet as ever. I suppose in after years life in the A.T.S. will seem very funny, if I were think of it which are shan't. I shall just make it a complete blank in my memory, as I always do with things I hate.

  Donald is coming down to-morrow, Friday, till I suppose Sunday lunch time or so, he was coming till Monday. This will be lovely, and help. We are going to be able to stay at the flat after all, I didn't think we would as they have a WAAF officer there as well, a friend of Harris wife. (the wife is at home.) Well IF they do send me to an OCTU at least I get some leave afterwards, and will go and stay in Ismailia and try and recover my sanity! I don't now what we are going to do, I think we are taking Stan and Mimi out to dinner on Saturday night, where I wouldn't know. A club near here I expect, it is the nearest.

     Lesley took me out to lunch to-day, and then we both went and had our hairs washed, a much more chummy proceeding than at home, all in one room. I am very fond of her. We had a very nice gossipy lunch over lots of nice cold boiled ham and coffee. Her flat is just near these barracks, opposite the embassy, and she told me that I must come and sit there and we could wash clothes together and the like. V. nice, I don't often go and see her as it is so difficult, she works in the a.m. and I in the evening and so tea is no use, and I can't go home alone at night. She always comes up and talks to me for a quarter of an hour or so during working hours. Donald and her husband are stationed in the same place.

      I have had some pleasant things in the mail this week, but unfortunately

no letter cards since I last wrote, two parcels of magazines, one yesterday and one to-day of 9.12. Thank you very much. Am delighted to get them first one of Punch's and Holly Leaves and Picture Posts, and the second Vogue and Women's Journal. Marvellous how you scrounge the latter! Still as a family I back the Parkes for getting things! Then all the ATS had rather a nice parcel each from South Africa, in a calico bag. Mine contained a new Nylon toothbrush, some toothpowder, kirbigrips, a comb, some notepaper, lipsalve, 50 cigarettes, and two little tubes of sweets. All most useful. I also had a note from Philippa Reade who is living in Zamalek, on this side the Nile by Gezira, no sorry, on Gezira. I want to see her, but I'm rather stuck at the minute to know what to do. After a week I come back here for a bit if I pass, and then I think I will be able to see her. I hope I might be able to next week, I don't see how they can keep us all the time doing tests. I shall ring up Pug Adshead and get him to take me out to lunch, and add to my morale. He said I was to.

    Well I shall have a lovely one and a bit days with Donald anyway, whatever  the ATS do! Poor darling how he does loathe me doing this. Poor Donald has had his fountain pen pinched by one of the Wogs from his tent. Maddening. It was a v. good one, a wedding present. He however has an old one which he had when he went to school in 1923 or something equally fantastic. So like Donald, I should have lost it in 1923 and a month!
    Will finish this in the a.m.
    Forgot to say thank you for your Xmas card to the H.G. which I had also this week. Very nice.
    Sorry about all this grumbling re the ATS. I know I might have to put up with so much worse
          With lots of love R.

   


 

1:II:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

 

     I'm afraid I can't type this today as I am at M.E.S.O.S.B. (Middle East officers' selection board) for men and women. Went to barracks Kas El Nihl (place I mentioned in last letter) on Sunday night. A ghastly place. We came out here by truck on Monday for the day - did intelligence tests all day, mostly depending on the speed, so I quite enjoyed myself. One or two were awful - like writer about yourself for 71 minutes (character) write about yourself as you would like to be for 71 minutes. We filled in a few forms, and had lunch and tea here. Then were taken back by bus to Cairo. Went and had a drink with Lesley and Pat O'Mally, a hot bath and dinner at the YWCA. Today we got up at 6.0, left at 7.0, were here for breakfast, lunch and tea. Had one to interview this A.M. with a Col. Have one with Mrs Chitty the head of ATS tomorrow and a psychiatrist. The rest of the morning and afternoon it was ghastly, the 10 of us build a shelter of oddments, had a debate, gave a little lecture, another debate, and a game of a type of blind man's buff - directing one's team all blindfold. I am now sunk in the depths a failure! I don't mind interviews, tests and having meals with them, but you know how I love athletics, building tents and the like, and debating on silly subjects to do with the A.T.S.. They are five Palestinian and five English girls. All happy hearty hockey except me. I should so hate to fail. We know on Thursday A.M. when the thing ends. Well I am trying my hardest and smiling, which appears to be rather a good thing. Do you know what I got for my little talk - Locks! I did not distinguish myself. It was the end of the day - 4.0, and I was worn out. A pity. I shall go out to Helio, have a hot shower and dinner, and a phone Donald. There is one girl here Irene Norman - you know the Hazel Norman's! We have spent all our off time saying, do you know so and so? They live at Stone or somewhere. Tennis people. Another girl's brother was a skiing instructor at Kingussie with Peter! (A Palestinian). I had a letter from you Daddy the day I left, number 30 of 19 Jan. Thanks I know you're busy, so don't worry. I like the way you and Pa Maitland are writing about Donald's future. He hasn't the vaguest idea what to do. Except of course something to do with engineering. He thinks vaguely of continuing he in the RAF. I approve the ??. I am sorry about the pig. Its maddening I do hope that the other ones are all right. So very disappointing.

   Oh dear don't want to fail this darned thing, but I fear the worst - oh for a peaceful ordinary life. The lots of love R.

   I forgot to tell you. I have gone bust! As well as my earrings which are being made, I bought for Xmas a really lovely old Turkish medallion in the Musky. A medal 97 years old in a sort of star about 2" across with a gold and red enamel centre and suspended from a red enamel star and crescent. It is set in a cut steel (?) star. It's heavenly. £2. I am going to have a pin put on it for a lapel clip or a brooch.

 

 


4:II:'44

 

I rang Donald up last night to said he had clever and hypocritical wife, so I must reiterate this to you, changing wife to daughter! In other word I got through. They told us yesterday am before we left. The girl knows the Hazels, Irene Norman, Rufus, and a very nice Palestinian and I passed, and a 5th also a very beautiful Palestinian passed, but has to wait a month or three before she can go to an opportune as she's too young, only 19. The other five, two English and three Palestinian, failed. After the second, so third day, I didn't think I would fail, unless I did something very silly. I wrote to you about the first and second days, on the third, first of all we had breakfast at 7-30, and then waiting for another interview with Mrs GT and elevenses  till 11-0. Mrs GT was deceptively nice. I fortunately hit on her favourite subject of why this country so rotten to the core, the Moslem religion and the complete subservience and disregard of women. Then we put on our overalls and we did a thing called company office. We each took in turns to be an other rank and an officer talking together. We were handed to problems with each, i.e. the officer and the O.R.'s side written on them and we had to deal them. When I was an officer had to tick a girl for being found sitting outside the company office with her boyfriend at 1:30am. I did it nicely and talked about letting the ATS down! Then we were taken to another room in a hut, filthy dirty, and told to make it into a recreation room and clean it with the stuff we would find next door. Then lunch. Overalls again, and we were taken outside, and an area was pointed out to us, the Camp where we were is on a rise, and we were told to show on a map, i.e. a square of sand, about 7 ft by 3 and a half foot, how we would arrange a camp for 500 Polish refugees arriving in a few days for three months. Old men, women and children. Then we all returned to one of the huts and had to give a five-minute talk on any subject we liked to everyone. I gave mine on the misuse the word geography. Everyone thinking it consisted of capitals, place-names and import and export. They were quite interesting on the whole. Mrs Chitty and the colonel, head of the board had left as by then, which helped I think. (Mrs Chitty is the head ATS, a col.) Then tea, and an interview with the psychiatrist, and home. The next a.m. we caught the 8-15 bus from GHQ. And then  into the whole board in turn, and confirm that we wanted a commission, and that they were the person whose number they had been writing about all the while. We wore armbands numbered. I was 39. Then we were divided up by the RSM into passes and fails, and Mrs Chitty came and congratulated the four of us. We deserved it I think. I am so relieved. I should so hate to fail anything like that. So humiliating.

   I went to dinner with Leslie in her flat on Wednesday which was v. pleasant. But we were treated well on the whole, and went while we were at M.E.O.S.B. We lived and ate in the officers' mess. There were lot a men there too, we did exactly as same as they did, except we didn't do an assault course, but tidied rooms instead! We go to an OCTU in Palestine in a about a fortnight or so, so I am going down to Ismailia tomorrow, and also take a 48 hours before I go, as I may not be able to see Donald for some weeks, which will be more than dreary. One gets commissioning leave though. Everyone has been congratulating us wildly, and me particularly on the hypocrisying that I must have put over. But I wasn't going to fail having once put in for the thing.

    Sorry this seems to have taken it up most of my letter. I hope you will be able to read the last of the road while I was there. I sent it to Donald be censored as I didn't think it quite suitable for over did them what were we lived in that --- barracks.

  I had lovely lot of mail waiting for me, one from you Mummy, I am frightfully distressed about the lag in mail, particularly since I wrote you no less than one at airgraph the first day I came back, then four-letter cards, followed by three airgraphs in a space of four days, before tackling any other letters. I do hope that you have got them.

      How nice to go down Aberdovey with Joan White for a couple of days, but what a journey by train. I have answered all the other thing you naturally wanted to know in the letters. I told you to about the Turkish order! My last and final Xmas present from the you all. You'll love it.

     How exciting about Gordon and Marg. I am so pleased. Susan is having a baby at the end of March too. You forwarded a letter from her to me. I should link love to see all these babies.

    Am very worried about Peter. Susan wrote the same thing about her husband. Thank heaven Donald is safely (?) out here.

    Have had the most lovely parcel magazines this evening. Have not really looked at them yet, but there is Lawnside magazine, and Punches and Women's Journal etc. Thank you very much for all that, they give me so much pleasure. I haven't told you, Leslie told me the other day that Patrick's mother is Ann Bridges! Patrick's father, O'Malley, is something like the Polish ambassador, I can never remember who he is ambassador to. I suppose it is her maiden name. Leslie of course hasn't met then yet. She gets £3000 for a book before she writes it! Lots of love. R


78 Pt I  7:II:'44

 

    Monday again, I hitched down to Ismailia for the night on Saturday and had a lovely time. Got there about 4-30, in time for some rather horrid tea and toast, we stay at the Palace, the only hotel there, as they have hot baths. We rushed up immediately after tea, as the place is always full of types waiting to bath after games, it being the only place where one can get hot water. Then we wandered around, trying to get Donald other some sort of boots or shoes, he's very destitute, but won't bother. No luck. He has too big feet for this country. Then we went into the French Club for a drink. It is quite a nice place, we always go there, then back to the palace for dinner, a good one, I think their food is the best Ismailia, they seem to have a passion for mixing kidneys and eggs, a thoroughly good idea. We aren't having eggs at the moment, from the army point of view, or the RAF, as the Egyptians are trying to profiteer so hard, and push the price is right up, the ration is two per day per man, and one per day for women. I think. We haven't been having them for about three weeks, so you can imagine that for lost the Egyptians, must, I hope it, be very severe. We had a lovely late breakfast on Sunday, then went for a walk, and a little elevenses. I like Ismailia, it is such a nice quiet little town up after the row and bustle of Cairo. There are lots of gardens and trees at. We won at root around in them, by the canal, Sweet Water, I think, then went and lay on the grass in the Sun, by Nick Concern, and watched the boats. It was lovely and warm, I had only got my blue frock, with the knife pleated skirts, which I brought from an Goodrick, when we were married, and was quite warm enough. It seems to getting a bit warmer now thank goodness. Then we wander along the French Club for lunch. They had an orchestra their playing light music,, Coventry Hippodrome type, very pleasant, the place was packed as a result. Usually they have a P.O.W. band, which I think is priceless! Then I caught up to 0 train back here. It always seemed so incongruous coming back here as at A.T.S., Donald went back to work too, his whole station seemed have gone away for the weekend. Lots of people seemed to go to Portslade, I would like to go sometime.

    I had two letters, one from each of the waiting for me when I got back, yours Mummy, was written on the first, and got here on the 5th. Pretty good, yours was 26 Daddy. Am so pleased that all letters I wrote when I got back from leave arrived all right. It should have been mad if they had got lost, they seem to have taken a long time to come. I am afraid that I am not keeping a diary of any sort. The letters I right you are more less of one has I write so many. I had better start last sheet I think.

 

 

Part II

 

I am afraid that I could not possibly write a book Daddy, I write a long letters because I like to tell you all time and that delay, but I don't think, apart from any thing else anyone could be in slightest bit interested, I wouldn't know how to start. I am very sorry I didn't think I could discuss politics in Syria in a letter, I don't know what at all I could say. I'll have to tell you all about that and British troops and things I get home. It is a great pity, because we were very interested in the party political situation there, and the mixture of French civil and British military role. Otis of course knew, and told us a lot of. But it is definitely not for letters.

    There is a rumour that the ought to be is beginning on the 22nd of this month, I don't know how true this is. I am dreading it really. I shan't like it all I know, but I much more worried where I will get send when it is over. I couldn't bear it if I got sent the other end of a Middle East from Donald. I shall just apply for Cairo and or the canal area here and see what happens. Still I am afraid that in the end we would have to move from here, I would so much rather have a commission. Some other bodies have gone on the selection board this week in, 4 people, Margot Nancy Jean Buckingham and Lindsay. I hope they will get through, apart from anything  else, it would be so nice to have Margo and Jean with me, loathing the discomfort and drill and sordidness!

    What a pity that the Boustreds parcel was stale. I can quite understand it, I haven't dared send much chocolate. So disappointing.

    I haven't seen Pug Adshead again. There hasn't been much time, he wanted Donald and me to go to a dance of at Gezira do one Friday evening, but since Donald has practically never here on Fridays, I'm afraid it is out of the question. I must ring up Philip and afternoon, now that there is time. It is always a difficult ringing anyone up, we have no phone in the billet, and we can't use the one in the officers' mess, and everyone works same hours as us. I shall try to get them this evening though. Pug is going away soon I think  our tour of his province. I was in Massif last week for the first three and a half days, it is very pleasant. I have never been there before, due south of Cairo, and lots of trees, and the most magnificent Avenue, about two miles long, of flamboyants. It should love to see it when they're in flower. They are lots of trees there, and gardens, and homes are quite English looking. It is really the best part of Cairo. Very good view of the pyramids. I think this is all I get in. Glad to hear you went to the air, as the other day Mummy, I like them.


79

11:II:'44

 

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    Well I am off to an OCTU to at the end next week, it begins on Monday week 21st Feb. And lasts I think, for six weeks. I must say I am slightly excited at the thought of getting commission after all this time in the A.T.S.. I hope to heaven I shan't fail at this stage of the game. Though I really think that having got through the selection board there isn't much fear of that as long as I behave fairly sensibly. Of the four who went up this week, Jean Buckingham has passed also Lindsey, and Nancy has to go to a general duties company as she has had so little experience, and to go to an OCTU in three months. She isn't yet 20. I am frightfully pleased and relieved about Jean, as I like her very much, and we will be able to sit and hate together. She is also about a year older than I am, which I find such a very nice change it. I get rather tired are being a grandmother and giving advice to everyone about everything. Jean is engaged to a tank major in North Africa. I do some hope sometime that Donald will be made a squadron leader. It would be very nice, as well as lots more pay. But he says there is so little hope of it, and there are so few Squadron Leader engineers. Only in G.H.Q. type the formations, and then only an odd one or two.

     Of course the one thing I am so terrified of, is been posted away from Donald. But from now on I'm going to pull every string, and do every bit of fiddling I can to get back somewhere near Ismailia. I rang up Pug Adshead the other day, and am having lunch with him at the beginning of the week, he said he wants to talk to me about this commission business. Did you write to him or something Daddy? Anyway he is head of the Civil Affairs branch out here, and I shall ask him if he could apply for me or anything, that would mean a staff job, which is what I really want. Then Otis said that the moment commissions were in the air I was to let him know and he would do his best. The only trouble is he is so far away at the moment. Between the two, I ought to be able get somewhere. The only trouble is that I am supposed do six months admin first, whatever I do after that. But Rufus is getting out of it so I might be able to too. Donald doesn't think he is likely to move at present. He is due home a year this weekend, thank heaven. Three years overseas. The WAAF tour of duty has just been  cut down to two years, and the WRNS always has been.

     Donald will be coming up here for the usual fortnightly weekend tonight or tomorrow till Monday am. We will have a do I expect for the last weekend at the flat for some time to come. Kit and Derek the ex W.R.N.S are having house-warming on Saturday night anyway. I having 48 hours this weekend too, I think I will go down to Ismailia, and pick up the train there. Donald can just sleep out for a couple of nights, and needn't taking time off from work then. Anywhere it will be a nice rest in Ismailia. We'll probably stay at the W.Y. It is nicer to sit there in the daytime. Leslie is down there now. She begins her new job at the Ministry of Information on Monday for the £44 a month! It is a racket. I do the same job as a corporal she did here for £43 a month, quite apart from the utter heaven of not being an A.T.S. It annoys Donald one hell of a lot quite naturally, and the way she is treated here by all the officers compared with the way we are! Haven't seen Len Wesson for a long time, I suppose he's still here.

     I had two letters, one from each of you, on Monday which I don't think I answered, yours Daddy, was mostly that list of when you get my letters. By the way re. read remembering names! When I first got out here, I thought I never would. Being with the RAF such a lot of the time, they talk eternally about aerodromes. Not Benghazi, but Bennina, and the like and all the little ones in Egypt, Palestine. Syria apart from the West, where Donald pops up and down quite a lot. Now owing to this training I am quite good on names out here. Funnily enough Mummy, when I rang up Pug, he said that he had just had a letter from Dorothy to say that you and Joan White had been over to see them! In your letter you said that you were just going to Llwyngwril. I am sorry about Mrs Williams, and Mrs Davies, hardly like Aberdovey at all. Bunch will have to take the children down there!

    Fancy Howard Phillips turning up! Should like to see him again. To my horror, when I got out here, I discovered Donald was quite jealous! Why beats me! It is about time he was made a full colonel I should think! I do hope that Bunch will be able to get a nursemaid. It must be very hectic for her. I hope Nanny isn't overdoing it. Glad to hear that Tom is still well and fat. I do so miss the animals. The ones out here are not at all the type I like, and I am sure there dirty. Poor wretches they could hardly help it. I am rather worried about letter censoring when I go. I can hardly say what I think about the OCTU and post it their, as it is hardly likely to be very complimentary. The post takes ages back to Donald. Incidentally I might get to see Mr Trevor Jones' brother. I shall be about 50 miles south of him. Lots and lots of love,


80     16:II:'44      My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

I am sitting in the Y.W.C.A. in Ismailia on 48 hours leave before the OCTU. I got down here last night about 10-30, and Donald met me, and we are staying here till I have to go on Friday evening up to Palestine, overnight, the course begins on Monday. It has been a hell of a job to moving all my kit and everything. I have I finally had to leave my books, all packed up in a wooden box, and will collect them at a later date. I have got such a magnificent collection now. I seem to have accumulated a lot more luggage since I have been out here. One lovely point about getting a commission will be getting rid of kit  bags, which ruin everything and let in the wet, and my issue under-clothes, both tropical and English, none of which I have ever worn. They take up such a lot of valuable room. I wear so terribly little out here anyway.

    Donald is working all day to day, I am going to take a taxi out to his mess after tea. He went at 7-45. I believe he was going to Alex for lunch, but he didn't know. I washed clothes and things like mad all morning, they have hot water here, and organised, I am leaving all my ordinary clothes with Donald, and anything I might value, the trouble is in these sort of camps you can never trust anyone, quite apart from the natives. Have got to go and buy a suitcase. We are reputed to get £50 uniform allowance and £10 on being commissioned, whether this is true or not I don't know, but as a tunic and skirt is £20, I will need it, apart from all the K.D. I shall have to get, the latter of course is much cheaper, and I have some which I bought last year which is quite suitable, only needs pips.

       We had a really lovely weekend, a very good party on Saturday night, Kit and Derrick's house-warming, her baby is due about the same time as Bunch's. Poor Mimi couldn't go as she had something wrong with her tummy, and was in bed so we spent an hour with her after tea. She and Stanley are going to be married sometime the next few months. I am very glad. She is a very nice person. They want Donald and I had to share a flat with them. This would be too lovely, but I can't quite see how Donald and I will ever be in the same place, let alone Stan as well. Mimi of course, lucky devil, is a civilian.

       I had two letters, one from each of you the night before I left. I am so glad Pug liked Donald, we went and had a drink with him on Sunday night. He asked to build a go up and see him while I am away. We want him to get me staff job if he can. Donald is going to ask him. It would make all the difference. He muttered something about it. I do so want to get back to Cairo or this area.

     I was very sorry to leave everyone yesterday, though I think I'm just getting out in time, before the place go some way a queer. I shall miss quite a lot of the people, and I couldn't have had nicer people to work with than the three men in my section.

    Very Sorry hear about all trouble is seem to be having with Mr Trevor Jones Daddy. It is such an awkward position for you. I hope things a simmer down a bit to by now.

     I am absolutely appalled to hear about Dick Hazel. I didn't know. I still they maintain my peculiar view that it is much better not to be captured by the Japs, because, apart from anything else, I don't see how one's health and mind could remain unimpaired by such conditions. I must write to her, I do think it is awful for her. I shall be seeing the Norman girl, friend of the Hazels on Saturday.

    I am sorry my letters will be irregular and bad for the next few weeks, I can't believe how much I hate the A.T.S., and well I can't go into it, it will only be censored. Anyway it is a very well founded hate. I saw Philippa on Monday, she seemed to think I dislike Egypt, I don't nearly as much as most people. I love it in a great many ways, it is the A.T.S. which I so loathe. Of course out here too, the contrast is even sharper with the WRNS and WAAF. I don't mean just 0 R's, officers as well.

    Well I must go and collect things I having pressed, and then tea and taxi. Will give Donald this.
Handwritten: Lesley's husband censored this!


81                                          NB 176595 Cadet Maitland,

                                               ATS OCTU Wing MEF

 

21:II:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

 

      Monday. I am afraid I only wrote you one letter last week. It was more than hectic. I went down to Ismailia on Tuesday night at 6-30 from Cairo, and had dinner on the train. Arrived barely half-an-hour late at 10-20 (90 miles by road). Donald met me and we stayed for three nights at the YW. It's a v. nice one in Ismailia. It was a lovely two and a half days. Donald worked all the while. I just messed about and organised my things and bought a new suit case. I now manage to fill that (v. large) Donald's big Revelation and my zip bag in addition to the stuff I brought out here in two kit-bags. Admittedly we packed up so well. One of YW. females, a very pretty American with white hair came up to me and said how she enjoyed watching me at lunch in my pink frock after all the uniform! I was touched. That new pink as you said does suit me beautifully. I went out to Donald's mess on Wednesday evening as I wrote you in my letter. We had a the nice party. They all came into Ismailia and went to a French place and had dinner and danced. Lovely French soup with everything in it. We had a quiet evening on Thursday and just went to bed early. We had hot baths etc. I went out to the station in the a.m. as Donald wanted to phone Mrs Heyer and make sure it was all right me picking up the Palestine train at Ismailia. As there had been a heavy sand storm blowing for three days, little work has been done. They could just fly, but Donald couldn't do any inspection on the engines and things owing to the sand getting everything. I always love to see his unit hard at work drinking tea and nattering! They are an awfully nice lot of people. Quite the nicest he has ever been with. They are sweet to me. Then Donald put me on the train at 5-45 and the horror started. We were supposed to travel first, but not a hope. So seven people with all their kit in one carriage for 40 hours overnight across the desert. It was terrible. Some of the people are nice Rufus Lindsey and of course Jean, two FANY's and one or two others. Oh but I do dislike the rest. The place reverberates with a shouts of hearty laughter. Living conditions are better than I had dared hope for. We are all in little bungalows. I have one of the two single rooms. I am terribly thankful. There is some hot water sometimes. We have a small officers' mess type of living and feeding place. Food good, and well cooked served etc. Makes a hell of a difference. And dinner at night, thank heavens. It's quite pretty. I went into Tel Aviv yesterday. I agree with you Daddy, it's a dull place. We are going on a trip on Sunday to Jerusalem. But life seemed to be one long drill. Hockey or something twice a week. And buckets of enthusiasm and team spirit everywhere. I know Daddy I should have above, but I haven't for this and never will have as they are trying to turn me into someone I don't want be and like people who I loathe and despise. I will try to pretend for the next eight weeks horror. But how in the name of fortune I could ever get through I wouldn't know.

    Donald is going to see Pug in a week or two and pray heavens that he will apply for me and when our papers going after the first four weeks, I may be able to squeeze through. Letters will be the difficult. One of these a week. But we have a place over the road and, and am going there this afternoon. Hope to post letters there, or they will be worse than useless owing to being censored here. If I can send ?? envelopes there and the post isn't too bad. I shall send all my letter cards down to Donald. We have 48 hours in four weeks. Shall live in hope Donald will be able to come up. Two letters from you 12th and 9th will reply in next.


82

25:II:'44

 

My darling mummy and daddy.

 

    8-45 and I'm just dropping with exhaustion after an hour's drill. All this banging and stamping seems to be having a horrid effect on my inside, it aches and feels as though it would like to drop out. I have changed greatly for the worse since I left school in this line. I think by the end of eight weeks, I shan't be any good for anything, I'll be so tired. Its cumulative.

    It seems ages since I wrote to you, but there isn't anything much to say. I had a letter from Donald last night, he is going up to Cairo this weekend to see Pug Adshead about jobs, I wrote to you about this before, I know. I hope to heaven he will be successful. He has also written a D.O. to Otis.

     There is an orange tree outside my bungalow which is in flower. I keep on going and standing near it and sniffing, it's lovely. I now quite understand why philadelphus is called a mock Orange. There are orange groves everywhere, they look so lovely. The place in Palestine is like home. It is lovely after the eternal glare of the semi-desert where we were before. They are anemones out too.

     We have an hour or three lectures a day, three of three-quarters of an hour in the am and two after tea. I find this v pleasant and restful and some of them are really interesting. Of course, after Cambridge lectures, they are beautifully clear, as they are given in note form and are so easy to take down. My mind keeps wandering back to the horrors of Mr Steens - physical geog. - whom I had two or three times a week for three years, the most important lectures of all, and without doubt, the worst lecturer I ever hope to hear! You probably remember him by name. He married Miss Wankin, Professor Debenham's niece, a tutor from Girton. We all have to give a 10 minute instructional talk. It's an impossible time to talk. You can hardly say anything, and it's too long to say nothing. I have decided give a very brief outline of English weather i.e. cyclones. There is a blackboard and so I will be able to draw a little.

     I had a horrid nightmare last night all about you. I always do when I get worried. I used to get school, and have had one or two out here. Shall send you a cable. Haven't had any mail for ages, except from Donald, as it takes time to get it up from Cairo. We had to send PCs with our new address. Donald was v. clever, he rang up the AP0 and asked what the correct address was. Telephones rather stagger me here, there are rather hopeless locally, Egyptian ?? ?? I don't know about others. People scream like mad in Arabic and you can't hold the receiver close enough to your ear to hear anything. I hardly ever the use them though, just to ring up a few odd civilians I know.

    Oh dear, horror upon horrors, we now have to have an extra half hour of drill in the afternoon because we are all so bad.

 

26::'44

 

Hadn't time to finish this yesterday. Had a Times yesterday of Jan 5, I do like getting them. They fascinate me anyway because they are such a lovely papers and look so nice.

    I didn't know if I told you but I am giving a lecture on English weather - Oh I see I have earlier on.

     We go to Jerusalem tomorrow. Am thoroughly looking forward to this. Must try to book rooms too for Donald and me on 48. Haven't heard yet whether he will be able to make it. Haven't had any replies from his letters. Am now terribly glad we didn't rush on leave to get there.

     Am sorry you must be having a terrible time with my writing. I left Donald's typewriter with him. It will borrow it again when this course is finished.


Just finished "The Ship" Daddy (HMS Penelope) it is a marvellous book, thank you.

 

83       28:II:'44

 

My darling mummy and daddy

 

    Had a letter from you last night, Mummy, of Feb 15. Written in the Park Lane Hotel on the way down into the Tregerne(?) Castle. So glad you are going down there for a break. You must need it. I hope you have a lovely time. I think I have seen reviews of that Jack Hulbert show that it was v. be good. You were lucky to get in. Adcock again I presume!

       I am delighted to see traces of Union all over Palestine! Your trip from that standpoint was not wasted! Well at long last I have achieved the thing I know you'll be delighted to hear! And I too - we went to Jerusalem for the day yesterday. We went by bus leaving here soon after eight, then had a cup of tea when we arrived and started off all round as much of the old city as we had time for. We went all through the bazaar to get there and through the Jaffa Gate, as you remember. The bazaars are fascinating. Then we saw the Wailing Wall, and the Temple Precinct, and that ghastly Mosque of Oman right in the middle with Abraham's sacrificial altar. I suppose all that mosaic is very magnificent. I loved some of the old Corinthian pillars knocking about. The gates too, of Mercy and ? are lovely. We saw the most beautiful Crusader church of St Ann, just near the Temple. Quite perfect, the only one I believe it. I shall go to see Solomon's Stables underneath next time. I wanted to, but we weren't taken. Then we went into the Via Doloroso, and down into the crypt of a convent, where there is the old Roman pavement, where Christ was supposed to her been tried by Pontius Pilate, then along the Via Doloroso and back. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was shut by then. Then we had lunch at that magnificent YMCA. It is terrific Daddy, and very nice inside. We had a good lunch. Then Jean and I wandered round the back of the YM to the YW to book rooms for us to stay next weekend. Then we went up the Mount of Olives, up into the various churches and the garden of Gethsamane and that they v. ornate Church of all Nations. I didn't like all the gold plate and mosaic, and liked the Crusader churches and all the older parts. You do too I know. Am I going to describe it all to you, as I know you know it but I found it all fascinating and I'm glad to have been - very. The drive there was quite perfect by the Latin? Benedictine monastery, and through the mountains - there were a little red anemones out, and even forsythia! Lovely. And the sea and the wonderful view of the Mediterranean at the top of the divide and isn't the view of Jerusalem on one side and the Dead Sea the other, from the Mount of Olives wonderful? I do hope you are not finding my writing to awful. Bunch may be able to translate.

     I am just about crawling now, we had to go to an OCTU dance (outside) on Saturday night, I got to bed at 1-30, up at 7-0 on Sunday, 6-15 today and masses of my favourite thing in life (???) Drill. I'm so tired I can hardly think. I went to the dentist this a.m. My gums have been bleeding and Donald has had some infectious disease which rushes round units, but it is only because I use my toothbrush too vigorously. I had two minute and painless stoppings at the back, so am glad I went and caught them in time. The first for about four years. Donald's all right incidentally. So glad Mummy about in the new frock. It sounds divine, and such a change. Lovely colour. And do wear it! (Memo the reddish-brown coat and frock!)

      Have had an introduction to see some people in Jerusalem from Pug. Shall use it. Perhaps they would have me some time for the night. I intend to go as often as possible, and really get to know it, apart from the chance of a comfortable bed and late breakfast. I believe the new town is nice. Donald thinks he can come up for 48, on Friday fortnight when we get one. This will be just bliss of course, I miss him terribly. He says he jumps hopefully every time the phone goes in the mess every night. He is seeing Pug this weekend, I hope.

I miss your terribly too all love, R.


84

 

8:II:'44

 

My darling mummy and daddy

 

     I see to my horror I haven't written to you since the beginning of the week. I did warn you that my letters would be rather erratic! Apart from the difficulty of censorship - they judge you by the letters you write - so I don't write except green envelopes to Donald. Green envelopes are issued at the rate to one a week, and dark End are best censored. I think it's disgusting judging you on your letters. I'm having a lovely short weekend in the why a W in Jerusalem which Jean and Lindsay. We got a lift yesterday here with a charming Dr who showed us a fourth century church near that monastery at last Timmis which I told you about, and then about 10 miles from Jer. A most beautiful church, in a little Arab village. A Roman church in the crypt, 75 A D or so, and intact, and above a crusader church, about 1196. The, or one of the most peaceful churches I have ever seen. So plain. They had just completed an altar to British troops, also equally plain among a monk shown us round, all in French, a bit of a strain, and they gave us some of the monastery wine. It had orange stained glass, such a nice change, which gave a beautiful light. Awfully kind of the Dr. We had tea here, and then wandered round, and a fat dinner and bed - lovely beds. Breakfast in bed, and then we went first to the new city, where I have reserved the most beautiful great sheen smocked blouse! I couldn't resist, and an embroidered Peter Pan collar, white, and pink and blue embroidery. We had a lovely morning wandering round the old city, and poking our noses into everything. It's fascinating. We tried again to see the Church of the age to put her for the second time. Still shut! Then we had lunch here, and five minutes B&Q. Then I have just been down to the Eden Hotel, which looks V. nice to book rooms for us both in a fortnight. And ridiculously excited, it seems years since I saw Donald he can't stay here which is a pity. We are taken we are being taken back by the why a W. women from one parish to her car at six. She is charming.

      We went to a Jewish settlement the other day, a, communal one. I expect you saw some. The Jewish Committee or whatever it is, gave them some land, and they build up this communal thing! Refugees from Europe, about 1200 of them in this settlement. Everything is, communal, they own nothing. Married people have one room each. Children are taken from them at birth, and live in kindergartens and children's houses. I think it's all too ghastly for words. But it's a lovely place, and they are quite self-supporting. They have a little marmalade and  corn and canning factory. My mouth watered like mad seeing all the marmalade boiling, I did so want to send you some. We ate oranges all way round! Lovely citrus groves, cattle bees sheep. Etc the homely smell of Cowmuck! Haven't had any mail this week, which is more than dreary. Think there must be a block out here. However I had a magnificent parcel of magazines thank you, especially for the educational pamphlets which came in handy for or information poor 10 minutes poor us! I am horribly afraid I'm going to fail. I shall be so upset if I do, that element see any way out. The other people seem so very different from me. And yesterday to my horror I had to drill people. I hadn't a clue. I don't want to fail and do my the best. The got to gave a sherry party on Friday evening all lecturers A.T.S. officers, cols and Commander were asked. We were maid! Or so it seemed. They all appeared to enjoy themselves! I had a lot of fun helping the sergeant Messing Debussy oak and a staff do a bit sore mid-afternoon. There has become send on all this week. Terribly hot and humid. Makes people be bad tempered and tired. It's v difficult to work its so hot and tiring it broke in floods of rain during Friday night. Do hope there will be some letters for me when I get back.


86 (should be 85 AM!)

 

8:II:'44

 

     Am sitting on my greatcoat behind our bungalow in the grass. As usual miserable and worried stiff about insects which are so much worse than England! I envy all bodies round one lying on the grass full length without worrying! There are thousands of ants!

      We had quite a pleasant am. We went round a thing called the D.I.D. (Detail issue depot) where all rations are drawn every day. Then to a field bakery, where there were lots of little rolls - white -  coming out of the oven. They let us take two or three each, and then when we went we found they were for the Brigadier! We always have white bread, people in Egypt and Palestine long for it! I long for brown! We get round to all these sort of places a lot, as we have lectures by all their heads. It's pleasant and makes a break. We have bodies like D.A.D.S. (Dept Assistant of Ordnance Supplies) and then go and see their places. Of course I don't know the first thing about this sort of thing.

     We went to an agricultural research station the day before yesterday. It was v. interesting. They are trying to work some scheme out to cope with the surplus citrus fruits, and even had dehydrated marmalade! Also which  tropical fruits it would be possible economically to grow in Palestine, mangoes, pomegranates, lychees, pens and that type. Along for the mango season again, trust I shall be Egypt again, there are masses there. It's a Jewish place of course.

    I don't really like these Jews I don't know why. I don't like their sibilant voices and looks. We have five on the course, and they don't mix or get on at all with the English girls and 2 S. African (WAAS). But of course I suppose they do do a terrific lot to Palestine, I think Palestine is really a lovely country right at the moment I feel rather about it as I did about Worcestershire! There is also a green and hilly after Egypt and the flowers are divine. There are scarlet anemones all over everywhere, and there isn't really so much of that harsh coloured bougainvillaea. I adore the mango trees! I eat unmeasurable ones. 8 enormous ones and three huge grapefruit yesterday for seven a half penny he. I feel guilty thinking about you every time I eat them.

     The church parade we were having on Sunday has been cancelled. Wish I'd known before. I have just written to some people Pug gave me a letter to, to see if Donald and I could see them. Now I could go next weekend. Can't make up my mind whether to go to Jerusalem or not. I would a) if transport weren't difficult b) if I could get a room at the WY c) if I had some money! I'll probably go in the end. I like to get around as you know. I am an expert hitcher now of course. I cheat. I always make men get out and let me sit in the front and never say Oh no....!

     The last letter I wrote I think I was still in a wider been. We had a v. pleasant journey back in the staff car belonging to the women who run a YW next door a charming woman. She is coming to dine in the mess tonight, and then I am going to the flicks with her!

      I suppose I really ought to be learning my notes. Donald is looking forward rather a lot. Had a letter from him today arranging what to do if I get a commission about my weeks leave. He won't get one, but I shall just go and stay down in Ismailia with him. The big stumbling block is that the train from here arrives at Ismailia at 5 am! Were going up to Cairo for the weekend. If I have a pip by then, I fear the worst. Everyone will be so amused there will be terrific celebrations. I suppose if I fail there will be a consolation party there. This course finishes on that 14th April Friday. I want to get the train that night down to Egypt. If I fail, I should get thrown it out in a fortnight, that is after my 48 hours leave about 17th March. I am very much afraid that I will.

      I had stacks of letters from you yesterday. The post seems to be rather slow from Helio. 2 from you Mummy and 2 from B. and one at from Cedric While. I am sorry to hear that it is so cold in Cornwall. Awful bad luck, especially when we were having a khamsin here. Donald will be v jealous. He so adores Cornwall. And I am quite appalled to hear about the Olives. I always imagined that they got on well together its v sad. I like them both very much. It is terrible the amount of marriages which seem to break up.

     How very unfortunate about the see C.W. hotel. I am sorry. We hear so little of anything out here, in the bombing line. Rufus hears occasionally as her family live in London. Incidentally there are two Fanny's on the course, one of whom, Betty Smith was with Justin and Barbara Lupe? for ages at Shrewsbury and Chester. A nice couple. About 28

     Donald said that he was writing to you in my last letter. He's bad. I have just sent him a stamped addressed letter card to you! He's naughty. He has had book, which he was reading while I was with him last which he enjoyed v much, the cheque also enjoyed! He thought he'd written to you.

     Re luggage. I don't really want anything sending out, it's too nice, and everything here has such terrible hard wear. Donald is going to get a box built and I bought a new suit case for £3 in Ismailia a big camel one. Quite decent leather, but made in the usual shoddy Egyptian style. Don't send me anything from home. You can't afford the coupons, and I shall buy a as little as possible. I never needed greatcoat here except as a blanket. Well anyway I don't think I shall never get a commission, so what the hell!

     48 hours are gradually looming nearer. Heaven. Even if I fail I get a weeks leave and then go back to 5 S I.

     I shall have to go down to the garrison shop I think, my white tabs are looking awfully messy. Must get some more tape. Am thrilled to hear B has sent me some Lizzie Arden stuff. Am getting short, and it isn't very easy to get, and any known brand doesn't exist. I brought nothing with me up here as the pilfering is very bad. I keep my door locked all day. It's an order here.

     Incidentally by Palestinians read Jews! Arabs are known throughout the ME by all British personnel as wogs! Egyptians means something a little higher up the scale!
     I am waiting till I get back to Egypt to send B. something for her birthday. Things here are v expensive and rather horrid. I am sure she'd rather have a length of stuff - I am cross I forgot before I came up here lots of love and for now. R

Thank you for 2 Times since I have been here. I do enjoy it.

86

P.S. I wouldn't moan if Donald were posted to Italy or something, but if I'm sent away from him the then I would. Played difference!

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     Well I am quite certain I've failed now we have just had interviews with the C O of this course. She asked me if I was worried about something as I didn't always seem to be quite with them. I told her I was worried stiff about being so bad about drill and games. I can't help it. I try, but there it is. Like a fool, I never thought of saying the thing which worries me over and above everything always, been parted from Donald again. I'm frankly terrified of being posted to Palestine. Oh dear this is all awful. I should so loathe to fail, you know I would. I try but there it is. Sorry I feel awfully dreary and worried. I am also very worried about Donald. He was coming up here for 48 but now he can't as he has to attend the court martial in Cairo on the Saturday. He has got something else wrong with him. He had that illness in the autumn, then just after Xmas a lot of bad boils on his behind, and now some other fancy thing. I think this climate is getting him down, he looks uncomfortably, their food is bad and the washing accommodation worse - he's been like that ever since he's been out here. Well anyway I am coming down to Cairo for 48. This is quite mad I know, but I shall get about 24 hours there. I'm v disappointed, we can't go to Jerusalem. He has now decided to take a weeks leave when I get one, either next week when I fail, or if by some remote chance I don't, in the middle of April. I think it would do him good. We must have a quiet time. I shall go and find out anyway what's really wrong. He's been on M&B[38] for a week with no effect but deep depression - oh for a normal life.
     Am very much looking forward to seeing everyone in Cairo. Mimi and Stan and Kit etc and Lesley. We'll spend the night with Stan as usual I suppose. I also want to get Bunch a birthday present which I forgot before we came up here. Shall get her length of stuff. I am sorry to write you all this dreariness. Presumably you'd rather have it than no letter. Anyway the one big consolation is that Donald has less than a year now oversees and I sincerely hope that I shall be able to get home to then.
      After lunch. Feel miles more cheerful. Nice lunch, hunks of Spam which I adore, and salad and chocolate stuff all sloppy and condensed milk (don't shudder, Daddy, I know I have terrible taste in food!) Much more NB I had a letter from Donald to say he's getting better again, and off M&B, goes to see a specialist today. I got a letter there and back in four days. Also one very nice one from you Daddy, of 7, just after you'd heard I was here. I'm trying so hard to get through, if only because I know how disappointed you'll both be. And Donald to. Apart from me. He says he has leave from the middle of April. Can't help feeling this is very foolish and premature even if lovely.!
     The wild flowers are getting more and more delicious. The orange and lemon blossom is all coming out, lovely with wild tulips (like small ??). Wild lupins, that blue stuff - can't remember the name bird's-eye? - Sort of marigolds. It's a pretty country. Great pity you weren't here in spring.
     I longer to live in my bed for half-an-hour now and chew my usual supply of oranges. Am delighted to hear about the Seville ones you have got. I don't think they grow them here. If there is marmalade to bought Egypt again I'll let you know have some. There wasn't much before Xmas, the end of the year though.
     Re. jobs if I get a commission. We have to do six months admin first, the C.O. was nice and said she'd do her best about staff jobs. As you know I'd be miles better at this type of thing. Pug is away and therefore useless at present unfortunately. Oh well. I shall have to stop worrying. However longing for 48. Have v nice for you Daddy to go and stay with Peter's Brigadier. They do want to know what's happening to him, but can't for obvious reasons lots of love R

88  ok
24:III:'44

My darling Mummy and Daddy,

    Life is at a standstill. We have all been waiting now for a week to hear if we have passed so far we are to be thrown it out. Now they are not telling us to a Sunday night or Monday. It's ghastly. Complete inclination to do nothing constructive as everyone is convinced they won't be here there to see it finished. It's a terrible feeling. I'm awfully worried.

    It seems years since my lovely weekend in Cairo though the time has gone quite quickly. Donald has booked rooms for us at the YWCA for married couples in Ismailia, also got leave for himself. Can't help feeling this is all premature and foolish as I will presumably be thrown out and have leave next week. It will be a lovely week though. I hope the new YW is as nice as the ordinary one. Excellent idea to have one for married couples.

    On Sunday about 6 or 8 of us are going round the old part of Jaffa and taking sandwiches. It should be a pleasant day I think. We organised it. Have a church parade in the am too, and on Saturday, a party for the Sgt. who is in charge of the catering for the mess, as she's 21. There certainly won't be much time at the weekend. Still I like to be busy. I get worried stiff about passing etc if left to myself.

     I haven't had any mail from you for about a week. No doubt tomorrow as I post this I shall get a stack which will be well lovely. It always comes in batches. Just today has an airgraph from Auntie B. V. Regal!

     The weather is lovely at present. Not too hot. We shall soon be in KD sorry khaki drill! I really prefer it. Much nicer with that stockings and suspender belts and the like.

     There is the usual altercation going on this afternoon about lighting the fire under the boiler for our baths or showers. We take it in turns more or less to light it, then all queue up for a bath! I had a lovely hot one last night. Must wash some clothes. The dhobi here it is a rank profiteer about three times as much as Egypt which is quite cheap, for once! But I always wash my own underclothes and handkerchief.

     Am going out to dinner tonight into Tel-Aviv which makes a change, with an instructor from an OCTU (males) near here. It always makes me laugh because he's so funny about all his poor wretches with white bands on and I think the officers must be to about us I could be!

     You can get toothpaste here, lovely. I am laying in a nice little bit as Donald always wants it too - he finds it difficult to get into Ismailia when the shops are open, also soap.

     Sorry this is an awfully dull letter - there's nothing to tell you as all I am doing  is sitting on my backside and waiting for the worst. Like everyone else. I do hope you've had Donald's letter by now. He's naughty about his letter writing. He's quite good, at present, and writes two or three times a week to me up here, but when it I am in H, never! They have lived in one big sandstorm in his unit all the winter, I do hope it's getting better now the worst time has passed. Hope he's sent off B's birthday present. I couldn't as you're not allowed to bring dress materials into Palestine. Would you tell her I'll write when I know one way or the other.

     Incidentally do you remember Richard Wood? I had a letter from June Carey, the girl at the Park and whom Donald and I used know in Cambridge, to say that he's now a major RE. Donald and I left with one month's Open. He's in India.

     How or why you doing trying to read my writing again? As badly as ever? You haven't passed any snide comments!

     I don't know why today in a lecture, it suddenly crossed my mind how dreadful it must have been that day when you arrived in London and I'd left the night before. It will be so lovely to come home again. It seems incredible to think I'm nearly 25 and Bunch 23.

     Do hope you had a pleasant few days, as well as interesting Daddy with Peter's Brigadier. Where is he now, still Lowestoft? How's the weather at home. Do hope there haven't been frosts, after all mild weather to kill everything. I can never really imagine you shivering in the rain, I always think of it has sunny. The garden will soon be lovely now.

      I think I'm going to leave this for a bit now, and think if there's anything I wanted to say other than babble. Oh, I know, could you Mummy send me anything I might find useful in my old summer frocks including that ??? bathing suit which Nanny doesn't approve of! She'll know! I know they're all ancient, but they'll do. I have such a lot of use for them here. Have I still got any part of that old white linen suit. I could get the skirt remade. I should be v. glad of them for the summer. Do not repeat not by me anything!! I know you, but I don't have to have coupons and you do. Hence I say old bathing suits?

 


89 ok

30:III:'44 (postmark)

 

My darling Mummy and Daddy.

 

     Afraid it's a week since I wrote to you, and what a week! There has been a ghastly sand storm blowing since Monday. Its reported it in the Palestine Post  about all trains which are stuck. They been feeding the one up from Kantara, the one I came on a week ago, from Cairo for 48 hours by air. No mail or anything has come through since Sunday. But what naturally is worrying me more than somewhat is Donald! He must be having a hell of a time. Where he is just north of Ismailia, is just loose sand as I told you, and they've had more or less of a sandstorm all winter. While I was on 48 before coming to the OCTU half the tents went, and how I shouldn't think there's a thing left. All my clothes are in suitcases in Donald tent, too, still they can only get buried, they won't blow away I suppose, they're v. heavy being mine! There's only about one permanent building in the unit, and that's the officers' mess. Of course there's not much sand here, merely a high wind and now it's pouring with rain and quite cold. Still one terrific advantage it's stopped drill for the morning.

     Have naturally had no mail from either of you for some time and, that is since Sunday. It's only Thursday now! I had a letter from each of you then. So glad you enjoyed your weekend with Peter's Brigadier Daddy, what an incredible a young man. He must be very brilliant.

     We've had a terrific week. On Sunday night I went to a flic with the girl the Hazels know and a couple of captains. She's very nice Irene Norman. Do tell Mrs Hazel, I'm sure she'd be interested. They live in Stoke I think. Then on Monday at 7-30 we went miles and miles by bus to a B.O.D. for the day. We went round it and had a lecture and spend all day there. They were very kind to us, and laid on a wonderful lunch on a polished table - joy! - tea and then a dance in the evening and more heavenly food. They rigged up tents for us to sleep in the afternoon and everything. Then we got back here in the small hours. Another duty dance at the MPs mess on Tuesday night. There I met a colonel who thinks he knows you Daddy. He's a great friend of Sydney Guy. I think it's Tim[39] not you he knows. Colonel Kirk lives in Wilmslow. But was a very pleasant evening. Then yesterday the cadets gave a dance. Tonight I hope to go to bed early! Still it's all been very pleasant and I have enjoyed it even though I can hardly keep my eyes open. We get up so early that's the difficulty. It always tires me more than going to bed late. We still don't know whether we've passed or failed. Were due to know about 10 days ago. The strain is simply appalling. I don't want fail after getting this far. I should so love to get a commission. Oh well, I'll let you know when/if I ever know.

     Thank you for your letter all about Carol Ann Mummy. It's terribly disappointing that I can't see her growing up. She still sound so sweet and so funny if clumping around. Hope she's learned to get downstairs now there as well as up. Fancy Nanny not been mad to get all the place spring-clean. It must be v. difficult though with B. and Carol ann. Has Bunch managed to find a nursemaid yet? I hope you've not been getting bronchitis again Mummy with no voice. How lovely chair sounds. I don't remember the ones at Hatton!

     The one thing I know Daddy you want to know about is the political situation out here. Well I don't know how or what I can say. Anywhere I will talk Donald about it on leave and see whether or not he thinks it is permissible to discuss it by letter. It's all very messy anyway and maddening since everywhere is out of bounds or has a 5 o'clock curfew, and I badly want to go to Jerusalem again to see these friends of Pug's. I rather think I shan't be able to make any comments. I hope to see Pug to on leave. I ask him all about it, he ought to know running civil Affairs for the ME. It's a very touchy point of course as there are five Jews on this course. On Sunday we went and had tea with some Arabs who own orange groves near here, about six of us. One of them is one of the richest Arabs in Pal. They were most interesting and all spoke excellent English. It's such a change to hear the Arabs' point of view instead of always the Jewish angle.

     I seem to have come to the end of this. On leave I'll really write an enormous long letter. Oh I do hope her pass. Lots of love to all, R.


                                                  Cpl Maitland

                                                  510 Coy, ATS, MEF.

90

11:IV:'44

 

My Darling Ma and Pa..

 

    I have, as you know have been putting this letter off and still off as you know as the worst has happened and I got thrown out of the OCTU. I just couldn't face writing and telling you, as I am quite shattered and know will be too. This happened a week last Friday, it is now Tuesday. It isn't quite as bad as it sounds, but I'll tell you the whole story chronologically. I Am sitting in the why a WWCA in Cairo at the moment writing this. Well, as I say, on Friday, Mar. 31, Mrs Ables saw all the OCTU and merely said she was sorry she had a disappointment for me that I'd failed and she couldn't tell me why. I know of course, it's because I'm useless at drill and hockey, and haven't been the ATS mentality. I'm dreadfully sorry to disappoint you so very much. I never really thought they would fail me on these grounds because I was far better than a lot of people they passed and had by a long, long way the best brain of anyone except Rufus. I could hardly believe it. Well anyway you know what a bitter blow this is to my pride, they thank God it hasn't hit me nearly as badly as some people as you know my opinion of the A.T.S. only too well, and you must admit it's justified Daddy. I know you will be angry with me for saying this, but in some ways, as I so disapprove of the A.T.S. and their ways, it complement to be thrown out! However everyone congratulated me on the way it I took it which is something - the bods at the OCTU I mean in particular a Naafi manageress from Italy, who incidentally gets a crown on being commissioned, a very nice woman whose opinions I respect. I sat next to her in lectures. You know Naafi have been converted into A.T.S. for their sins. She told me all along I'd pass, and was more than staggered when I didn't. She's about 40. Well I got the train down to Ismailia on Friday afternoon. Just before I left I got a letter from Donald to say that his Ismailia was out of bounds as there is an epidemic of plague  bubonic  - Black Death or what you like out here. But I thought I'd ask if Donald has been injected. Anyway it was in bounds mostly when I arrived but for flicks and places. They gave me 10 days leave, to recover I presume. So Donald took a week too and we stayed at the WY, and really had a perfectly heavenly week in spite of anything. We just decided we wouldn't think about anything for a week. I can't tell you how marvellous Donald has been to me, coping as I was in a dreadful state. I just couldn't face writing to you, I'm sorry. It was more than I could do as I know you'll be so upset. I arrived on Saturday am and they had a party in his mess that night as they had redecorated it all. It looks v. nice. Everyone was the sweet to me, and laughed at it all which made it seem so much better. We did nothing in Ismailia except go for walks, sail and eat and sleep. Donald needed the rest too. He went over to the station once or twice to cope with things. It was lovely weather. Just right. I wandered around in a blouse and skirt and silk frock. The YW is such a nice place and the woman who runs it always greets us with open arms when we go there. There are some very nice gardens there too and the flowers are magnificent, lots of hibiscus out now, in scarlet ?? and white, and a beautiful trumpet shape to a thing called bignoniae (spelling?) also of course bougainvillaea always. And Jasmin and lots of annuals, stocks, clarkae?, larkspur, carnations, marigolds, siberian poppies pansies all looking lovely, oh, and lots of sweet peas. I love Ismailia. Lake Timsah is so pretty. We spent quite a lot of time at the U S Club which has a lovely garden going down to the lake, also some sailing boats. We danced once or twice, and discovered a new game, playing spillikins with the toothpicks always provided at all restaurants out here! We horrified the head waiter! It amused me so much too, spending a weeks leave in a town where there was an epidemic of plague on! (Sorry!) There we were a little am scared when Donald got a flea bite in Cairo!  But there is none here and anyway he's been injected! It was confined complete to the natives though. No service cases. I'm getting used to these diseases out here. I'd have had a dreadful fit a year ago. I shall continue over the page and then on to another letter card. We came up to Cairo on the Friday and spent the weekend with Stan. Then Donald went to see Mrs Player on Saturday a.m. to see what he could find out. She was very, very nice. She always is. I must go and see her, she said that I had not really failed but have been retarded for three months to get more admin. experience. And have been posted to 510 Coy for this. She was awfully angry and said what nonsense it was trying to turn women into men etc etc. She also said that if we could possibly pull strings and get me a staff job now as a corporal they would, if the people I worked for asked, commission me without any trouble. See next letter card.

 


91

20:IV:'44

 

Donald came up to Cairo with the idea in his mind to that he would try to fiddle something. So on the Saturday too, he rang up Pug Adshead and we had lunch with him at Gezira. Donald talked to him while I powdered my nose for hours on end! He was nice and helpful, and so Donald had to go and see him again on Monday, yesterday evening. He is coming to see Mrs Chitty who is head of A.T.S. to see if he can get me into some branch of GHQ to do with economics. He doesn't know if he will be able to manage it as he doesn't know many people as he hasn't been here so long, but he can but try. (Incidentally he's very pleased with the Times Daddy!) Well anyway its all be much in the air but heavens I hope some things will come of it. Donald is also going to try and ring up Otis in Aleppo and see if he can do anything. If only he were here I'm sure he could but Aleppo is roughly 800 miles away! Still he's a bad do in Cairo again. Mrs Player also said that I could go back to my old job if I wanted, but it's a dead end, and I do want a commission. Now with ref. the admin. racket. Have been posted here to this enormous company, where incidentally I stayed for the MEOSB and am here for three months to be trained in all the departments for three months. In pay, stores, orderly room etc, and then am to go for another MEOSB and OCTU. That's what they think. Well I'm not going to another OCTU, I couldn't face it and be thrown out on the same ground again - badness at drill etc. Honestly it isn't that I don't try but I can't do it. I spent the day in the pay section where I am for a fortnight. Fear I shall be dead with boredom at the end of three months. I am sleeping in a flat in the old married quarters in the barracks as the corporal in charge. Very funny. Two Palestinians and four English. Donald left this morning. I can't tell you how wonderful he's been. They are all being  nice to me in this new place, but I'm so dreadfully lonely. I don't know a soul. Will probably see Lesley tomorrow. She lives very near. I must ring her up. In fact life at the moment seems the end. In one way I am quite glad I'm not going back to my old job as they are going to Alex any moment and I don't want to, and will live in a tent. But I miss all people dreadfully. There aren't any of my type at all in this new company. We were helped over this weekend by  contemplating other people's troubles - Stanley has just been refused permission to married Mimi, he's regular RAF and the ADC said if he married her, he'd lose all chances in the RAF, and he's got a permanent commission and is a wing commander (Lieutenant Colonel). So we all for gloomed together. Had a very nice lunch with Pug. People just pounced up to us and said hello Donald, hello Romie, and then saw lots of red and blushed! It was funny. First we saw Gerry Wilkes. Haven't seen him since Xmas, then of all people Johnnie Webb! Oddly enough with a major whom we met in Aleppo and liked very much. Johnny looks much the same only fatter and very brown. I still don't like him very much, but it was lovely to sit and talk about home for hours on end. We had lunch with him and the Major on Sunday at the club and nattered all the afternoon. We ring Connie? He is about half to one mile east of where I have been all time since I've been out here. He was of course at school with Stan and Donald, but as they are younger than he is and in different houses, he could only remember Stan's older brother. He said that he'd been to the head organisation of British troops out here trying to find me but couldn't.

    My post of course is in a ghastly mess. Its now following me all round the Middle East. Still I hope it will catch up. I just haven't the heart to write any letters. I must write to Bunch for her birthday. I'm sorry for this ghastly couple of letter cards. I really did try, but I'm not the stuff that all good A.T.S. are made of, thank God, annoying though it is at present. Lots of love R

    I nearly forgot, happy Easter. We had chocolate eggs for breakfast at the flat! Donald brought me a big one too.


92

 

14:IV:'44

 

My Darling Ma and Pa.

 

    You know see a reformed daughter. I am reverting to my earlier good habit of writing twice a week, but I'm afraid that in future it will have to be one letter card and one airmail letter unless I can get hold of the typewriter again. I may be able to, we'll see anyway. I am so sorry about not writing for such ages, he must have been very worried I know, but honestly I was so upset I couldn't bear to tell you. Pug has been doing noble work and has seen the head A.T.S. on my behalf. So I will tell you all - Mrs Chitty, the head A.T.S., says that I must do the regimental training if I want a commission. If not I can do staff work as an economist in the Middle East Supply Centre. Donald badly wants me to do that. I don't know what to do. I simply can't think. Anyway I am going to take things as they stand for a week or two and then see Mrs Chitty after I have seen Donald again. What you think? Let me know as quickly as possible. If I am an economist I cannot get a commission. I saw the head A.T.S. here today and she was very nice about it - a major - thank you Daddy for writing such a nice letter about it. I had one from you today Ma, but of 22nd March. It had been all round the place. I am longing to get my mail straight again. I forgot to tell you re. that blank letter card. I sent it for Donald for him to write as he hadn't written to you for such ages. And when he got it, had just written to you, never looked inside the letter card, Misread my letter to him, sealed it up and signed his name on it without looking inside! He censors all my mail! Very good censoring! Well I hate people I know reading my letters, so I always send them to him, I think a couple of days' delay is much better than not being able to write what I think. Poor little Bunch, by the time you get this her child will be almost be born I suppose. I do hope she'll get my letters and cable in time for her birthday - I have been so dreadful the last few weeks. I hope the nursery maid has arrived. She said Beata was so heavy to lug about. I do so wish I could see her. I hope she has a boy this time too. Incidentally Donald has or is just sending a photograph we had taken on leave. He says it's good of me but awful of him. We're not photogenic. He had a boil on his behind last week again, so couldn't sit down. He is having injections now for them. I rang him up last night. Its a year yesterday since we landed. It isn't it incredible? And today it is your 29th anniversary. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have been married 29 year. Am very sorry I am not at home to buy you flowers. Anyway lots of luck for your 30th. Hope perhaps we might be home for that. Donald is sure to be I might be. Oh dear I have forgotten Di.'s birthday. I will write an airgraph tonight. Nice to see David again. He is a nice boy. Amazing to think of him as a P.O. He must look nice in uniform. I am going out to Helio tomorrow evening to see Mrs Player and everyone else and collect my books and B.'s photograph which I didn't take to Palestine as it's glass and eternally regretted it. I do wish you'd have one done Mummy. Donald took an odd photograph or two of me in Ismailia wandering around in the garden by a the Sweet Water canal, but I expect they will be terrible as usual. I expect you know all about Sweet Water canal. It flows through the middle of Ismailia and continues on in various forms all the way here. The road runs alongside it. It's used for irrigation, drinking - the women fill water pots or chatties from it - washing clothes, by the side of the canal, bathing and for all forms drainage instead of lavatories, also as a refuse dump. Donald's unit got ticked off for putting some acid into it, about a pint of disinfectant by mistake, by the Egyptian authorities. The latter were incensed when his unit pointed out that they had got so tired of the sight of a dead donkey in the Sweet Water canal, that after three days they'd removed it. It's a very sanitary canal.
     I'm going to stop babbling now and go to bed. About the only good thing I have found about this place, is that they debug one's bed every week with a blow lamp and I have a soft pillow for once. I do so hope that you'll hear from me sooner and put your minds at rest. I do feel a stinker about not letting you know. I had a letter from Gladys yesterday, she's nice the way she writes. I appreciated very much with lots of love your R.

15:4:'43 A bit late posting this. I went out here this evening and saw everyone including Mrs Player was very nice. They are all off to Alex also Sarafand next week. She told me it was touch-and-go whether I failed or not another letter from Gladys is today!

93

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

     You note I am reformed type again, and I'm keeping to my usual beginning and end of week schedule for letters which I have stuck to all the while since I've been out here except for these last few unhappy months. Bunch's birthday tomorrow - I hope she will have a happy day. I have sent her some blue woollen stuff, the colour of that royal blue old summer coat of hers. I thought it more sensible than anything else. I do hope she'll get my letters and cable in time. Have just had a letter from you Daddy. Very late though, of 27th March. The mail from Palestine is bad. Thank you anyway I am awfully sorry about Alan Champion. Dreadful to die so suddenly like that. Thank you for writing to me such nice comforting things about failing. I really think the A.T.S. are wrong. Still I am leaving all that for a week or two. I hope you talk to all your officers re Peter's Brigade went off well. Yes I do enjoy all the pamphlets very much thank you particularly the Times. You've no idea how out-of-touch you get. Of course I know the broad outlines, were the Russians are, that type of thing. But I never hear the wireless, and the Egyptian Mail and Gareth give no news - politically, but sort of Middle East titbits. Names Pasha in Upper Egypt and that. I know far more now about Egyptian government than our own. I think all this Jewish business is dreadful. I was at Sarafand ???????. You know living in Palestine, cheek by a jowl with Jews, one does get very anti-Jewish. They are such an unpleasant race en mass, and so fanatical. Do you know in Jerusalem, the Orthodox Jews - we call them Cushing's, you know when for a long kiss(?) curls, will spit at you in uniform! It's horrible. Their policy is of course to clear and drive out the Arabs as far as possible. Everywhere is in bounds again now. The riots etc. are supposed to have been due solely to a set of sort of outlaw Jews, who do not belong to these Zionist thing, the main body of Jews in Palestine who fix all the Jewish law and the business generally. Sorry this is very badly explained. I talked to all the Jews on the course about it, and this was the explanation. They seem to want the English here, as without them, they would be open war more or less. I had a Times today incidentally. I have had a lovely lot of mail and parcels. You are angels, and I'd been so bad lately. You've no idea how I miss you and long for a post of Home. I have  had a parcel magazines from you Daddy this a.m. including Blackwood's, thank you. Of about 14.2. I think. Ask Miss Partridge to put a date on, and give her my love. Then I had that heavenly parcel of Lizzie Arden stuff Bunch sent on 22nd Feb. Also some magazines of that date. In fact I am well set up, I got those yesterday. Have hardly had time to open them yet. Finished work yesterday at 1.0 and went to the Club for lunch, with Stan and Mimi, another couple and a great friend of Stan's. Then slept at the flat for the afternoon, the regular Sunday habit. Then at the club, and then I had dinner at Heliopolis House Hotel now in bounds again, likewise Shepherd's, and danced with a  friend of Otis' whom we met in Aleppo. He is Johnnie Webb's major. He - Johnnie - is in hospital for a couple of days with tonsillitis or something but his up and OK now. A very full day. Tonight, when I've finished work at 5.0 I bathed, and then went out and rang Donald up and had dinner at the YWCA a while waiting for the phone call. You get an excellent dinner there for 15 PT (3/-) beautifully served. Fixed price in Egypt is 30 PT (6/-) dinner 25 PT lunch for soup fish meat and sweet or equivalent. We have got the flat to ourselves for the weekend. Stan is going to Cyprus for 48 hours leave, Harry's in India for 10 days, and Alan in Gibraltar and North Africa for a week! There's is duty though. They are sweet to us. They will have to stay with us for years after the war. Donald said he he'd had a letter from you today Daddy, re A.M.I.Mech.E.[40] (right?). He thinks it's a good idea. The line was rather bad, I couldn't hear much. He might come up on Friday as I think he's got some work to do it Middle East. It would be lovely. I have got Sat afternoon and Sunday off. I get much more time off here, but have to work longer hours. Much better idea. We went into the KD today. I thought I'd be frozen, but am not. Am as usual wearing your jersey Mummy. It looks rather tired. I must wash it again when I can do without it for a few hours. No stockings from now until November. Lovely. How gorgeous this garden sounds Daddy. I am just seeing the seasons coming round again. The jacaranda trees are coming out. They most beautifully blue. This is the end. Give Bunch lots of love and Nanny have adored up to you, R.
94

 

                                                             Cpl Maitland,

                                                             510 GHQ coy. A.T.S.

                                25:IV:'44                    M.E.F.

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      I meant to write this yesterday, and unexpectedly went out to dinner at the last minute and didn't. We had a simply lovely week-end, Donald came up on Saturday in time for tea at the club as usual. It has suddenly got hot, about 90 in the shade at midday I should think, much hotter than it ever is at home anyway. We had tea by the swimming pool for the first time this summer, Donald had forgotten to bring his bathing pants, which was a pity. My bathing suit is all right now, I had it invisibly mended, some animal had chewed a large hole in the front during the winter, maddening, as the cheapest here now are about £6 each. Still they invisibly mend here so beautifully. Must find another cap, I lost mine ages ago, and don't really like bathing without one. As I told you we     had the flat to ourselves for the week-end, Stan being in Cyprus on 48 hours leave, Alan in North Africa, and Harry in India, Harry arrived back on Sunday night, he had been right up to the Burma front and was most interesting about it all. He is due home any time at all, I will send some letters by him when he does go, he is sure to go by air. we had dinner with Mimi and Gerry Wilkes on Saturday night at the Officers and Sisters Club just near. We nearly always go there to dinner on Saturday nights. Gerry may be coming home as he is transferring to artillery spotting, and may come home to learn to fly, I think that is why he is doing it, all he wants to do is get home to his wife. Poor Gerry, he had rather a beating up too one way and another in the 8 Army. Sunday was terribly hot too.

     Marion is here at the moment, at the ME0SB, and just as I had finished work    about 5-30, I ran into her looking for me. She took me off to dinner with her at  the Blands, some friends of hers, Robin, see biographies I sent you, used to live with Mrs Bland's sister when she was at London university evacuated to Cambridge. They are a charming couple. I have been there to dinner before. I must go and see them again when Marion and everyone have gone to Alex as I expect that they will be lonely. It is nice to see Marion again. She has been in Alex for a long time, attached there. Her husband is now at home and waiting like Peter. Poor Marion she is trying so hard to get home. I think she will manage it, she always does somehow. You know he lives near Wolverhampton, somewhere round the Park, he has written to her asking if he should go and see you so no doubt he will sometime.

        Thank you very much for two more lots of things I have had from you this week, Daddy, some books, and magazines, I had quite forgotten Chambers Journal, it is a good paper, also the Countryman, I enjoy that very much out here, takes one back!

        I am very much afraid that I shall have to finish this letter off myself, as I am really supposed to be working at the moment, but it is during the lunch hour and there aren't many people in and out of the office, I am still in the pay office for another week I think.

        Y.W. after tea. Have been reading Chambers with my tea, there is a most interesting article there on sandunes in G.B. by a man at Cambs. who was a research student my first year. Just of course the lectures simplified and potted!

        All the successful OCTU students are back, Jean Buckingham has also been posted to Kas el Nil with another girl I like and Irene Norman, the Hazels posted to Mena. It makes me so jealous! I do hope by now that you had my letters all about this.

     And have got over the most shock. Am so longing to get my letters here again instead of all round the world first. I of course have no really new news of you as a result.

     Daddy have been meaning to ask you about this for ages, but forgot. Donald's father sent you a cheque didn't he for £30 as half of my income tax rebate for year ending April 1943? I hope you kept this to pay back the money you used in paying off my overdraft. Could you let me know how my finances stand some time, or have a balance sheet or something?

    I wore my beautiful new white silk blouse that I bought, or rather had made for me in Jerusalem, on Sunday for the first time. Everyone adored it, and I felt just like Sunday morning. Donald too had just had a v. nice pair of brown shoes made (£3.10). It ought to have been Easter! Donald's shoes getting in such a frightful state walking around in the sand all the while, completely ruins shoes as you know - sand.

    Hope we'll get this nice and quickly I will put it lots of love R.

 


95

                                  30.1V.'44

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                         My God it is hot, the hot weather has started with a rush much earlier than last year. It is a pity too, it is cloudy, if ever the weather isn't as nice as it might be, even out here, it is always on a Sunday, when most people prefer to have their days off if they can get them. I had the whole of yesterday off, and had a pleasant day really. I nearly went down to see Donald on the Friday night as I finished work on Friday at 5-0. but he wouldn't let me as the place is more or less out of bounds as the epidemic doesn't seem to be very clever. Maddening. Spent the day in Helio, and had elevenses with Kit at the Club. Poor wretched Daphne, the other ex. WRNS in the flat has just got dysentery and her infant is due on Tuesday. Still it seems to be the mild kind. I had lunch there by the pool, in a bathing suit, and then all the usual types turned up about two, Mimi, Stan, Alan etc etc. It was lovely down there. First time I have bathed since November or December. I am rather indolent about it as I lost my cap ages ago, and I have to bathe without one, and the moment I get it, someone always dives up underneath my middle and someone else finishes the good work and sits on my head! I got quite badly sunburnt for me, and even my feet are rather sore this a.m. Though considering that I sat there from 1-0 till 5-30 in the sun, with it more powerful than it ever is at home, I am not burnt at all. Anyway my limbs don't ache, as they did once in Durban. I must get myself nice and brown again. The trouble is it fades so quickly if you don't sunbathe nearly every day, and I can't here.

     Funnily enough I saw Chris there, she was the nice NAAFI woman on the OCTU, aged about 40. I thought she had gone back to Italy ages ago, she went this a.m. though I think. I had a long talk to her, am glad to have seen her before she went. She was with the other two NAAFI women too, they are all  going to Italy in bits.

     Had dinner on Friday night with Kit and Derek, in their flat, Kits baby is due at the same time as Bunch's. Have been knitting a few oddments in the vest line for her off and on. Of course babies out here in the summer need practically nothing, and her mother and mother in law have sent her all their own clothes! Much like ours, with miles cut off the bottom!

     I got your letters a on 27th , thank you v. much. Am so relieved that you now have my proper address. I suppose that I ought to write and tell you all about this place, but I am really too fed up and miserable in this dump to speak or think about it if I can avoid it. Apart from the discomfort sordidness dirt, and all the other necessary adjuncts to being an A.T.S. where isn't even another person whose life remotely impinges on mine enough to make it possible to be even vaguely friendly. Still it IS in Cairo and Donald can still get up once a fortnight, and so I can cope. Also I can get over to Helio occasionally, and see Kit and Mimi and all the other people I like. It is very sad the way my old unit  has all split up and no one is left now. Incidentally did you know that Daphne Mander is at Mena, and failed the M.E.O.S.B.? One worse than me anyway. I haven't seen her, but saw her name on lists. I don't know if I told you, that I was quite staggered the other day, when the head woman here came up to me, and told me that they were very pleased with me. Of course I do work. I should be now, but there isn't anything to do, Sunday a.m. is always slack.                                                                                   

      There are very worrying rumours floating around about the mail being held up from home. But anyway cables don't seem to be as I got yours in three days. I also had quite recent letters, one from each of you, which had been via Palestine. One of yours Mummy of 16 April and yours Daddy, of 18. I am afraid that the missing letters of mine may have vanished, in the sandstorm. You seem to have been quite gay over Easter. I am glad. The Americans out here also have strange round women! How nice to think of Carol Ann being able to wear those shoes I sent from here. It is so difficult to guess what size her feet might be. Hope to heaven that the nurse maid is a success. I guess the baby will be born by the time you get this. It will be delayed a couple of days possibly I am afraid as I only wrote to Donald this a.m. or posted it then. Daddy I am thrilled to hear of you being one of Lord Harrowby's Deputy Lieuts! Terrific. Do you have to do anything or not? How lovely the Dutch Interior sounds. They are such nice pictures to live with. The garden all sounds so lovely too. The flowers are nearly over here, the English types, it is getting too hot. But the blue trees, the jacarandas, are quite divine. That gorgeous hyacinth blue. There are lots in Helio. I remember that so well when we landed. We used to stay in Hel House, and the bedrooms look down on top of an avenue of them.

   Well, I had better stop babbling, and do some work. Oh, Pat O'Malley has finally been taken off flying, and has now a job, and lives out here, in Middle East. So he and Leslie have the flat. With a salary of £100 a month between them. I think that is net, as Pat will get a £1 a day living out allowances. Donald and I are horribly jealous of all these bodies, not of their bodies, not of their piastres, but of their easier lives! I know though really we are terribly lucky. Anyway I am so glad Donald isn't in Peter's position. It worries me v. much about him. Poor little Bunch.  With lots of love,                    

 

Have just finished reading Black Woods which I thoroughly enjoyed.


96

1:V:'44

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                I only wrote to you yesterday, but it is Monday night to-night, and I was very late with my usual end of the week letter, and also I am duty NCO to-night, and have to stay in the Orderly Room till about 1-0 and check everyone in. Awful bore, this is such a large company that I have a duty L/Cpl and Pte. Great contrast to Helio.

    I had the first direct letters from you to-day, and was terribly pleased to get them. One from you Daddy, and one from Bunch; I know there is one from you Mummy on the way as Bunch said that you had written the day before, I expect it will turn up to-morrow, the earlier ones nearly always come last, expect they are at the bottom of the mail bags or something. Thank you v. much for yours Daddy. Am very glad to hear from you after failing, and that you aren't too upset. I am afraid that I shall have to have another crack at it. Am going to apply to see Mrs Chitty sometime this week. Well enough said about that very dreary subject!

      So glad to hear that you enjoyed Wisley so much. I remember going to Kew so well with you Daddy, the year after Mummy was ill. It was all so lovely I shall never forget the blossom. I have never heard of Wisley before.

      Please thank Bunch for her letter, I had no less than three from her to-day, two forwarded on. Poor child she does sound so worn out, and it is awful about Peter, I have always been glad Donald is relatively out of harms way here. I also had a letter from Joy to-day, and an airgraph from Ma J.

     I spoke to Pug on the phone this evening, and he said that he was just writing to you, I couldn't see him unfortunately as he is going away for three or four weeks. He is so kind to me. This evening too I collected my birthday present from Donald, a bit early! We couldn't get them on Sunday as the shop was shut. He has bought me the most lovely aquamarine earrings to go with my ring, big square ones. I couldn't get any when I tried at Xmas, as they are rather difficult to get especially square ones. They seem to cut all the semi-precious stones like diamonds out here.

      Sorry about the above mess, I had a little trouble with the ribbon, and not knowing this typewriter couldn't discover how you worked it. Had quite a   pleasant evening yesterday. I finished work at 5-0, and had to go over to Helio to collect the other half of my books from the club where I had dumped then. I had just got then from the billet, which has now closed down, as I couldn't cart them all up to Palestine. Am glad to have them all back here again with me. Everyone is going into Gabardine again now the summer is coming. This always occasions a lot of rudery, as only HQ types normally have it! You know what it is like I am sure, pale biscuit colour, and much like drill to look at by the time it has been cleaned as many times as it has to be. Types who wear it are known by many names, Gabardine swines, or Groppi lancers, or ruder. Groppi is an enormous firm here with two large restaurants, where everyone goes for elevenses or tea, I don't much as I don't like it. They have divine cakes and ices and the like. I think it is just like Lyons, and has a very fine line in public lavatory architecture.

 

 


 

 

     The Africa Star is much better known as the Groppi star! Quite candidly, I went there this evening, to the garden, Groppis, and ate strawberries and cream and a meringue while I waited for them to clean my ring.

     Bunch's baby is due the day after to-morrow, am longing for news. It does seem so far away, it is awful. I mean news takes so long.

      I phoned up Donald last night from the club, he will be down here on Saturday, thank heaven. I do hope I will be able to get off on Sunday anyway, I am leaving the pay office to-morrow I think, and going down to work in the stores. Want to go and get brown anyway at the pool, my sunburn has worn off now, though my one shoulder and chest are a trifle sore still, must remind Donald to bring his bathing pants!

      I am afraid that there is little more to babble about now. I hope my letters are coming through regularly again now, I shall look forward to yours Mummy tomorrow.

      Good night and lots of love to you both.

 

Pencil:

2 May, I did have 2 letters today, one from each of you, and v. nice ones. Will answer them in my next.


96?

8:V:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

 

Monday again. I loathe the Monday Donald goes it's incredibly drear. Had a letter from you Mummy today of 1st May, which you had accidentally addressed to 501 Coy! However it got to me very quickly. Thank you. I am getting over the worst shock of failure, and have applied now officially for an interview with Mrs Chitty. Have done three weeks in the pay office, a week, mainly as a Messing N.C.O. and on Wednesday go to work in the stores. Q, for about a fortnight I suppose. We had a lovely weekend, slightly marred by our boils! I have had one this week also on my behind and not caught from Donald either as he hadn't had one for three weeks! We both had them! Mine had nearly cleared up thank heaven, as I had a very painful week, couldn't stand or walk. Donald's having injections. He's in a very bad state because septic face, and little cuts were he shaves, he now has six days' beard, a septic hand and ankle. I am very worried. He just goes from bad to worse. Still he's going to kick up a fuss when he gets back today. Too bed places, but it such a mess. We had a quiet weekend owing to his face! I am going to ring up in a few minutes and see what the MO has to say about it. I think myself that the only answer for him is home, or at any rate, a posting where he can live out comfortably and have decent food. One amusing thing. I was frozen last week. I had three blankets and a hot water bottle, wore a vest etc. Donald told me that the Max temperature daily was about 78 degrees F in the shade and the minimum for the week 58 degrees F! I went around grumbling at being in KD in this cold weather! Am living in hopes that every post I shall have a cable saying Bunch's baby has been born. Thought I might have heard this a.m. when I got back to the barracks. Still I suppose it's a little early yet. I do hope it won't be too late. Am very glad to hear that the little girl from Shop Lane is a success. It must help a lot. She will do all nappies and things I presume. Daphne, the WRNS (ex) who shares a flat with Kit, had her baby on Sunday am. Kit's is due to next week! It's awful to hear their fury. 8lbs 11 ounces enormous. I suppose I must go and take her something. There's a very good nursing home on Gezira, the only one in Egypt.

      I never got this finished last night. Was writing it at the club after tea and Mimi came along and moaned and we had a good grumble which lasted till I had to come back here. I hope this will catch the early post. This morning I don't start till 12.0 and then work through to 9.0. Horrid. I had a letter from Philippa Reade last night to say that she has got unofficially engaged and is waiting her parents' approval, and will I go along and vet the man for them! Oh dear...

     I got through to Donald last night before I left and he has seen the doctor who is filling with injections and sulfa amphonide and all the other sulfas! He thinks he'll be OK.

     I am awfully sorry to moan all while to you in letters. Things do seem to be a little awry at the moment. Though not seriously as Donald is still at Ismailia and I'm still in Cairo.

     And sitting up in bed writing this. Am getting quite brown, and have pealed all over so ought to get very brown now. I can't often get over to the club which is a pity, but v. nice we have a compulsory day and a half off a week. I've never had more than a day or a day and a half for a fortnight before. It does make a lot of difference. It's a general order, and a day off a week for all men. Well is the heat (not present at moment!) You do need it.

   Hope I get a cable today, with lots of  and lots of love and don't worry I'll survive, R.


97

11:V:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

       I am just near a typewriter for once, and have just been typing a formal application to Mrs Chitty for an interview. I know it has been granted, but apparently I have to do it in writing. It is rather late at night, at least about 10-0, so this probably won't be a very long letter, but I know how much easier and pleasanter it is for you if I type my letters. The pay office where I worked for the first three weeks I was here gave me permission to come in here any evening I wanted and use this machine, but as they don't stop work till at least o-u it is a bit late.

     I was thrilled to bits, on Tuesday evening I had a letter which you wrote and posted only last Friday Daddy. I am still hanging around waiting for a cable, and to have a letter even after the baby was due so quickly was so nice. Do so want to know what is happening. I think B. is marvellous the way she copes. I do so hope that the baby has arrived by now.

     I have just had a half day. Went and spent it at the club. Sitting by the pool as usual, and getting nice and brown. Geoff Speight was there to-day. He is a great friend of Alan Coopers, He is one of the sort of people who turn up there day after day, and we all bathe and have tea together. I thought I hadn't seen him for a bit, and he had been to that place out of bounds to British troops, England! He came back yesterday. Just over for three weeks. He looked  remarkably pale, as last summer he was like a nigger. Lovely to hear all about England! He said it was lovely and everyone looked so fair, even the fair people like me out here's skins were so much darker. He was frozen solid of course. The food was lovely, and he saw and English Soldier in Piccadilly and all the other stories which we hear out here! All the second front rumours etc. We talked about it all the afternoon, so nice. I wish I had known he as going, and would have loaded him up with things. Then I rang Donald up to see how he is. He seems to be a bit better, He is full up with injections and lotions and the like and thinks he might be able to shave by the next time he comes up. I hope so, I don't like beards. He was having a bottle of Guinness. Shades of you Mummy! He loves it though. I try to stop him. but it is no use! It is an unheard of thing out here. I suppose NAAFI must have had a small consignment. Dreadful stuff, if I remember rightly after a minute sip of yours.

     I don't, know if I told you I am now working in the Q stores, which are enormous here, as this is a depot company. Just run around and give people new shirts, and tell them something isn't worn out yet, and why don't they darn it. Jean Hodgson, whom I was quite friendly with at the OCTU is now in charge of it, and so I have quite a pleasant time talking to her. I have been doing my best Daddy, to appear a keen type, and she said that everywhere she goes she hears marvellous reports of me, how quick I am etc. I find this hardly surprising, since nearly all the admin staff are Palestinian.

     I think, I am sure, in fact that I answered your letter that I got on Monday in my letter of that date, Mummy. Am very glad to hear that you have a better adj. I hope he will be successful. You do have such bad luck with them. A sherry party, how terrific! Tell me all about it when it comes off. I don't know when Whitsun is, my diary is French, and it doesn't mean a thing here.

13:V:'44   

As you see I have been a very bad about finishing this. It's Saturday night, and I am writing in bed. Am getting rather worried. Still no news of Bunchie. I shall cable tomorrow or Tuesday if I haven't heard. I get worried about you all when I am so far away. Then I have horrid dreams.

    I had dinner with Kit last night. It was so nice. Poor Derrick was in bed with a bit of a cold. She was delighted with coat I knitted her , the same as the one I sent Bunch. I have got to rush through 2 vests for her in the next three days as one of her parcels from home has got lost and she's short of them.

     Donald said in his letter today, written yesterday, that he's a little better. His beard is also doing very well. He has to sunbathe a lot. So he ought to the nice and brown by next weekend. I am a lovely colour. I don't burn which is so odd. Have got the day off tomorrow. Will be at the club are all day. Hoping hourly to get a cable. With lots of love R


98

15:V:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

     I am sorry I have not been able to get hold of the typewriter this time. I was very pleased yesterday to get a letter from you Mummy and one from Bunch of the 9th. It is awful the way B's baby just isn't arriving. Poor thing she must be tired of waiting, I watch every post V. eagerly for a cable. I do so hope it will appear before long. Its so worrying with Peter. it is lovely getting letters through so quickly. I wish mine would reach you as well as that. The mail home seems to be very slow. I also had a letter from Minnie Jenks at the same time.

     Donald says that he is a lot better. I am so very glad. He thinks the injections are working. The only bad thing now is his head. I'm going to start bullying him about getting posted somewhere better. I thought he would be better after leave, but he isn't. It's the climate I think. The only thing left to clear-up now know is his head and one boil. Still he will be able to come up again on Saturday and I shall get down to him now that it will have the least effect!

     I am frightfully pleased, a new club has opened in Cairo for RAF officers and their wives to buy things - linen at 11 PT a metre - 2/4!! I can't believe it, and lots of other stuff. One is restricted the amount of one can buy a but I hope to be able to get some this week end. It would be marvellous. I think three or four dress lengths is about all one is allowed. However I shall look it all over and think of you! I think it is an excellent idea. The only thing which worries me is that it might all be sold out by the time I get there, I don't think I can go without Donald.

     I am at the moment working in the Q stores. It is quite pleasant, with Jean Hodgson, was on the OCTU. She tells we all the dope, apparently they are all very pleased indeed with me, to my everlasting surprise, and the head A.T.S. thinks I would make a very good officer. Haven't heard any more about my official application to see Mrs Chitty no doubt it takes time. I don't mind the work so much, it's the people and the barracks  I loathe so, and the noise in the hut. I can't stay in my room for five minutes with all the other people, they make such a row.

     I had dinner at the Levy's last night, with Jean Buckingham, Marion, Pauline, Robin and Nancy were there, all on leave. It was so nice to see them all again. We had a very pleasant evening. The Levy's are friends of Marion, who gave the reception for her when she married.

     How very nice my birthday parcel sounds? There has been no parcel mail for a long time now.

     Your march-past sound terrific Daddy! I have to do something like that on Empire Day! At 3 am isn't it silly? I shall spoil it beautifully with my excellent drilling! A select few have been chosen. Both Jean's burst out laughing when the list was read out at the Office meeting and my name was on it.

     I haven't seen Irene Norman for some time. She is out at Meno and and it's rather a long way to come in apart from the difficulty of communications. Still I'll see her some time.

     Your new hat sounds pretty Ma. Grey suit still going strong? Am afraid I shall be too fat from my clothes when I get home, though I have lost quite a bit of weight just lately.

     Am afraid there's no more room now. I tried to ring up Philippa this afternoon, but as always her number was engaged

 

With lots and lots of love and longing for news R.


 

99       

         

                            19:V:'44

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

         I am having a session in the pay office at 9-30 at night, writing this to you, I have permission to unlock this office and type in here any time I want, since they approved of my work in here. Most useful!

     I had a letter from you Daddy, since I last wrote, I am appalled at the way Bunch's  baby won't put in an appearance. I quite see all the worry it is causing you all about Peter. I am so very sorry. I had an agitated letter too from Bunch at the beginning of the week about it. Poor child! I rang up Kit to-night, hers is a day or two overdue too, but of course it doesn't matter to her.   B. is marvellous the way she copes with babies.

     I ran into Johnnie Webb this morning in the barracks, having, not seen him for a month. I was nattering away to a girl who was on the OCTU, and whom I hadn't seen since when an odd Capt. came up to me with gold teeth. I thought I knew his face, and went on talking, finally the Capt. said timidly could he speak to me and I realised that it was Johnnie. He has broken his jaw and has his mouth full of some contraption, which alters the shape of his face completely. Poor John, it must be uncomfortable. He also said something about something about me in the Express and Star, he hadn't the cutting on him. What is all this? You have been remiss, I don't know!

     Incidentally talking about cuttings, at the week-end, I am going to mail you a lot of oddments, that I have cut out papers at one time and another for your also a map of Cairo issued to troops when I came out here, at least issued by a shop, and some photographs, I want Donald to look them over first though, to see I am not sending anything I shouldn't. His idea of censoring anything I give him as to write his name on the outside, seal it up and give it to the barman to stamp! Very nice and handy! I haven't; done anything much since I wrote to you.

     Wednesday afternoon, no yesterday, I had lunch with Lesley in the flat, which was very pleasant. Patrick is in Nairobi for a week, lucky thing , I would  love to go. I have marked her flat on the map! Wednesday evening I walked round to see Daphne in the Anglo American hospital. It is a lovely place, on Gezira, right in the middle of some experimental botanical gardens. Her room over looks the golf course, and has a great hedge of hollyhocks, of all colours. It is all so green and treey and like England. Very nice hospital too. Didn't see the baby as it had gone to bed or something.

     Sorry this is a letter full of asks. First, could you possibly let me have  some scissors? I lent mine... And the only decent ones I have seen out here were   150 pt. I have my little embroidery scissors, but nothing else. If scissors are impossible, don't bother, because I have managed without for about 6 months, and might just as well. 2. Mummy, could you please ask Howards or whatever the opticians are to send me another pair of glasses, same prescription, and pink if possible, and I will send them a cheque, I have got an English cheque book. I can't get them very easily out here, and they are about £5, and inferior. I have only the pair I am wearing. I am terrified of breaking them.  The army supplied me with a pair, but they are flat lens, and I can't see through them, and steel rims! They don't supply spherical, I don't know why. I do hope you can still get glasses at home, otherwise I shall just have to find some out here. I have been awfully unlucky with glasses out here, I lost a pair coming out, they fell off my face leaning over the ship in Durban harbour. I think I told you. I left my dark ones in a taxi about a fortnight ago, which made me absolutely wild, we tried to trace the taxi, but of course didn't get them back. I am furious with myself. They were so good.

   Thirdly, Daddy, you said you were going into the bank to see how my account was doing. Donald has written to his father to ask him to pay me a second relay of £30 income tax rebate, so I ought to be fairly well in hand, so could you please tell the bank to let me draw so much a month out here again? I am getting rather broke, in fact very!

    I have been meaning to ask about all these things for weeks, but every time I write I forget!

     I am still working in the "Q" stores, but finish there on Wednesday. Then I go into the barrack stores, for a few days. Deal with things like blankets! Most exciting. Still in the Q stores I have made up all the things I lost of my kit at no cost to myself! By a little judicious wangling!

    I have been noticing with interest the sort of work that all the A.T.S. here do who work in GHQ, they are nearly all typists and  the like, Lesley and I were talking about it. It is simply priceless, ATS officers in GHQ don't get half the responsibility that we all did as Corporals and the like in my old job. They don't even write letters practically without someone higher up looking at it, while I used to do all my work then compile it, and send it back home, by the speediest means poss. wireless, enormous amount of it everyday, without anyone glancing at it, and just signing at the bottom. You were supposed to know what you were talking about, and were therefore believed we laughed to think how silly it all is! Lesley of course was doing the same job as you remember.

    Nice to see Joan White again, do give her my love. Her taste in pictures would be a bit odd! Ours sounds lovely anyway.

    You are both being so very nice to me about being here. It helps a lot thank you. I have two Palestinians in my room, they are all right, but the people in the room leading off it are rather the end, they make such a row from morning till night, and all the afternoon, have terrible accent, heavy feet and don’t shut doors, banging being the easiest way! This sounds petty I know, but it is grim to live with. They have to come through our room to the cupboards, bathroom and lavatory i.e. a continual stream. Still I am not in much if I can avoid it, and at present have to work in the afternoons. But I am much happier and more settled than I was, and they seem to be pleased with me, and I go out as much   as I can. Anyway I am now going to bed. So lots and lots of love.         

 

 The Manor Ho. appears as a lovely haven of peace quiet and comfort, oh How I  LOATHE noise!

                             

P.S. I agree with you about the Second Front Daddy. It must be grim for you at home, with the wireless etc.


100

                                     26:V:'44.

      My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

           Absolutely delighted as well as relieved to get your cable last night  to say that B.'s latest child has been born. Am now absolutely longing to get a letter from one of you to tell me all about it. I am sorry, but not particularly that it is not a boy, as I know that you both wanted one. But Bunch and I have always been very happy together as two girls. I am sure that she will be very sweet. Is she like Peter as Beata was when she was born? I do hope to heaven that Bunchie didn't have too bad a time. She is marvellous. You know I hardly dared open that wire last night when I got in, it is an awful feeling. I was beginning to think that something might have happened to Bunch. I had a letter from you Daddy of the 16 at the beginning of the week, saying that Peter was coming down last Sunday for 48. I do so hope that he saw the baby before he had to go, and that it was all right. I worked it out as near as I could, not knowing trains to and from Lowestoft, and I think he should have done just.

     I rung up Kit to-night, and her baby was born last night, a boy. They wanted one badly so I am v. glad. Donald and I will be able to go and see her next Sun. week, as you can go 10 days after the baby is born and NOT before, except fathers! Life seems to be a whirl of babies. I thought Kit's would be born yesterday, as she had tummy ache when I called in to drop her three vests that I had made, on Wed. evening.

      News after the first paragraph seems a little flat! But no doubt you would, like to know it all. I am afraid that I have been remiss and haven't written to you before this week. We had a lovely week-end, very quiet. Donald seems to be a lot better again. His face has stopped being septic more or less, and he can shave again. All his other holes have healed up thank goodness. The injections seem to be doing him good. He is terribly brown Beyond having tea with Kit and Derek in their flat on Sunday afternoon, a lovely tea, toast and honey! We had all our meals quietly in Stan's flat. Harry went to Italy in the small hours of Sunday a.m. and so there was masses of room. I do hope that Donald will be all right again, this climate definitely doesn't agree with him. We went to the R.A.F. club on the Saturday afternoon, and I bought some very pretty grey cotton, which I am having made up with double row of white and crimson bias binding round the collar, sleeves and belt and a monogrammed pocket. They had unfortunately run out of linen, but hope to have come more stuff at the beginning of the month. Linen, 2/6 a metre, as compared with 18/- outside!

     Monday evening I went to an Amateur Dramatic show which was quite good, with Jean Buckingham, and some other ATS officers, Tuesday I had lunch with Lesley, Patrick was back from Nairobi. He loved it. We all went into the Musky to collect a wedding present for some R.A.F. officer belonging to 26 AACU. It was quite fantastically hot, Lesley and Pat are the most wonderful bargainers! Lesley has lived here of course for four years.

     Wednesday was Empire Day. I was one of the thirty or so odd unfortunates from this company who had to parade. We got up at 6-0, and went to an enormous service at the Alamein Club on Gezira for representatives of all nations and services. Service was at 8-30. The Ambassador and all the gold braided types were there. Unfortunately we were right at the back and couldn't see. It was wonderfully organised. You will probably see it on a news reel. The R.A.F. did a fly past. Liberators, Spits, and Lancasters, all organised by Stan! I was amused to hear this having tea afterwards in the afternoon with them at the club. I thought it must be training command anyway doing a bit of practice formation flying!

    After the service and fly past were over, all the people on the ground, many  thousands, civilians, troops, boy scouts etc. were issued with a sawn off beer bottle full of lemonade, the local equivalent for glasses, and a bag of buns, and two oranges. There were sports and things for the rest of the day. I left at about 5 clutching my two oranges. I was v. glad of the food, as overslept, oddly enough not laziness, and didn't, get anything before I went out. When I got back  wonderful surprise, there were not less than 6 parcels for me. There has been a hold up in the mail somewhere I think. One was my second lot of Lizzie Arden. Am  thrilled to bits with it of course. Can't wait till the week-end, or rather Saturday week to try it! The rest were papers of all sorts. Thank you for the East African Journal Daddy, I understand it more now! I am so beautifully and gorgeously inundated with reading matter now I don't know where to start. Will have to thank you for it all as I go along. Also I had two Times, one posted May 12!

      Don't think there is any more to tell you just at the moment. Except that I hope you are pleased with your new granddaughter. No doubt you are! Am so longing for more news. I wrote B. a blue letter card yesterday, immediately I got the cable, and also I sent a cable this evening. I do hope she will get then quickly.

      I am v. sorry about Mrs Queen(?). She was such a dear old woman. Am writing to Hilda.

      Hope the Sherry Party was a success. Thank you also for invitation list! Also a copy of Conservative and British Legion things all officially signed by you Daddy!

 

All love R.


 102                                           176595 Cpl Maitland,

                                               510 (GHQ) Coy, A.T.S.

 

                    1.V1.'44.

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

       I am afraid that this won't be a very inspired letter card as I am suffering from a bad cold, the third or something ridiculous since I left home! I caught it from the girl I am working with at the moment. Am dosing myself well with aspirin and throat paint. Heavens I do believe that I have got a couple of quince tablets left, I will try those too. It is very cold at the moment, I have had to go back into a vest, and have been wearing a long sleeved jersey for the last two days, most of that I think is cold, but the weather is chilly. It was 117 the week before last! The trouble is that in this country everything is built for great heat, and it is all so draughty and cold if it is inclined that way at all.

     I have now had a letter from you Mommy telling me all about the baby. It came just after I had written to you last Monday, and if I remember I scribbled something on the back of the letter. Am longing for mail and news. Hope Bunch is  going on all right and all the rest of it.

     I went to see Mrs Chitty this a.m., but it was really most unsatisfactory. She was quite nice and all the rest of it, but hadn't had any information of me since I have been here, and therefore couldn't tell me much, beyond advising me to go on, but she said she would find out, and let me know all about it, what I have to do, another OCTU? another MEOSB? or both? Anyway I suppose I have jogged her memory which is something. I believe that she is going home though. So I suppose in due course someone will tell me something. You remember I told you that at the last lot of MEOSB's Marion had been sent to do three months admin? Well she by some means came across the MEOSB papers and read them. I don't think she has seen the one on me, but anyway, do you know why she has to wait, she has too much individuality! It was on her confidential thing. There you are Daddy. She says now, that everything she does, she thinks am I being an individualist,  must be a sheep (Dear Marion, she never could be. I am very fond of her.

   Have just been phoning up Donald, I am going to hitch down to Ismailia for the night after work on Saturday morning. Spend one night at the YWCA there, lovely. Ismailia should be looking rather pretty, all the flamboyants are out or just coming out here, and there are masses there. All along the Sweet Water Canal in front of the YW, see photographs when they arrive. Did I tell you he has a new C.0.? So I am going out to the mess on Saturday evening to be formerly introduced. I believe he is a nice man, Stan knows him, also once he took Donald down there by air on a Monday morning. The trouble about their mess, I dress myself nicely to go there, there is always half a gale blowing, and then there is about 100 yards of pure sand to walk across which ruins the look of my shoes. Donald told me over the phone this evening that he has found out how to get at the Chamber of Commerce here, and is going to do something about it, when we have 48 hours leave in 10 days. It pleases me very much to see your locks all over the barracks, locking up everything and in all shapes and sizes. They are all your locks. Donald says that it is the same in the R.A.F. I had a big row with one of the natives in the citadel became when I was waiting for someone in the barracks there, I wandered round looking at all the padlocks on the stores, and he thought I was trying to open them! I had quite an interesting time. We went from here in a truck to the citadel barracks. Incredible place. Of course I didn't see much of it, as it was only on duty. Wonderful views, and then out to another military place, via the City of the Dead. A large part of Cairo which has been completely abandoned during living memory due to a bad outbreak of cholera. The houses are partly roofless and doorless, and full of tombs where they buried the dead as there were too many to carry away from their houses. It is most eirie as it all looks quite new. Not a soul to be seen through at least a mile of these house.

    I think 1 am going to bed now, as I am very tired, I. will stick a bit on to this in the morning and post it to go to-morrow. Good night.

    Oh in case I forget, I had to fill up one of those forms nominating someone to vote for me by proxy. I nominated just you Daddy, then you Mummy, I think that I get a double vote, so I stuck B.A. after my name, and Newnham Cambridge after the Manor Ho. where it said permanent address. Lots of people kicked up a fuss about this, saying they were red etc, and their families weren't! However I can safely trust you NOT to vote communist for me!

     Next morning. Had to get up early for pay parade. 7.0, a thing I strongly object to. Normally I sleep till 7-45 and start work at 8.0. I don’t have breakfast as I get elevenses at 10.0. I come next to Daphne Mander and so we had breakfast together. She's quite a nice female really. How old is she.

    I expect I'll get some mail since I have just written to you. I do hope so. Am always longing for mail.

    Well I must start work now.

          With lots of love R.

 

 


             103                                            Cpl Maitland A.T.S.

                                                            510 (GHQ) Coy A.T.S.

                5:VI:'44.                                   M.E.F,

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

            Isn't it terrific about Rome. I was amazed and delighted when I opened my Egyptian Mail this morning. It is nice you know reading ones news in the papers as I always do out here. I never hear the wireless.

      Quite a lot of news to-day of one sort and another. First I was very glad to get both your letters to-day and yesterday. Yours of Friday and Sat. Daddy, and one from you Mummy of Monday last. Am so glad to hear that Bunch and Angela Rosemary are all right. Am of course dying for a letter from Bunch, but I quite see that she won't feel up to it, for a bit, Bunchie always does have her work cut out writing letters! I think about them both such a lot, all my various friends keep on asking me about them too, they are all so fascinated by that lovely photograph of Bunch and Carol Ann. Apart from the fact of course that I talk about you and home so much.

    Had a lovely week end, I hitched down to Ismailia for the night. Went at lunch time on Saturday. Got a lift in a 10 ton truck to Tel el Kebir at 1-0, and then a 15 cwt. The first was so slow but comfortable, and the second fast and most uncomfortable. Arrived at 4-0. Donald met me in the YW. It is so nice going there we always get such a welcome from the people who run it. Awfully nice women. We had dinner there, and then drifted along to the French Club to dance, and discovered that there was a Red Cross Ball going on, all very upstage and county. I was all wrong in my striped blue 21st birthday frock! There were a few people in white d.j.s looked so nice. We enjoyed it. It was all lit up outside, and the flamboyants looked lovely all floodlit. It is so tiring dancing on the 9 stone floors out of doors. We won the bottle of graves there for 20 pt. Just one gamble! Very nice, and worth at least 250 pt out here! Next morning we just wandered about. Ismailia was looking so nice, all the flamboyants are out all along the canal, they are all the trees that you will see in the snaps of Ismailia that aren't palms of one sort and another. We had an early dinner and drank our bottle of Graves, and I caught the 8-0 train back here. Got to bed  soon after 1.0 and started work at 7-0. It is well worth it with a day and a half off a week.

     I had a nice day to-day too. A late tea with Lesley, when I finished work at 5-0. Then I went to see Kit in the Anglo American. I am awfully fond of these two, and they are so nice to me. Their friendship makes a lot of difference to me. They are normal and lead normal lives. Kit was delighted to see me, and I had difficulty in dragging myself away at 8-O. I saw Michael David too, he is 11 days old, a nice little boy.  She and Derek are of course delighted. She will be there for 3 weeks, as she had rather a bad time of it. Donald and I will have to find him a christening present. Then I phoned up Donald, and now my pads are quite exhausted after all this walking. My job at the moment seems to necessitate tearing up and downstairs all day.

     Donald is coming up by air about 7-0 on Wednesday for 12 hours for a dance given by Stan's Group, to which we have been invited. I am terribly thrilled. I never thought he would manage it, but he has got air transport both ways, and won't miss more than about 1 hours work. A Wing Co. whom I know slightly from an aerodrome near by is calling for him. It is a terrific do. Lesley is lending me an evening frock. I think the C in C, ACM. Sir Keith Park is to be present, that is why it is in the middle of the week, to fit in with all the gold braided types. Everyone will be there. I have never been to a big do like this out here before. In fact I haven't been to one for many years.

    Daddy, thank you very much for doing all my commissions. I am not frightfully bright about money out here I am afraid. I quite forgot that I could draw a cheque here that will be cashed on the N.P. bank at home. I haven't touched my account at home for the best part of a year, certainly 10 months, except once I sent Bunch a cheque for something. I have since then been living on the money that caused the big overdraft that I had sometime at the end of last summer. I will look in the cheque book and see when I last cashed a cheque on the N.P. Bank as opposed to the quite separate account which I have out here. It worries me dreadfully, out here, money. The trouble is that money just doesn't mean a thing. I suppose it is inflation. It is little things like this. I told you I bought some grey cotton at the RAF club to make into a cotton frock. Well as it is a services things the 3 yards of cotton cost about 7/- How they manage it out here I don't know, as outside you would be jolly lucky if you found cotton for 7/- a yard. Then of course I had to buy bias binding and buttons, ordinary cheap Woolworth stuff, and they cost more than the stuff itself. Bias Binding at 2/ a card, buttons 2/6 a dozen. Needles cheap at 1/ a packet. That is the sort of way money goes out here. I went to buy Kit some chocolates this evening. Groppi chocolates have gone up from 10/- a lb to 12/- in 2 months, or little more. I had 1 lb! A daily paper is nearly 3d. Half the size of the Times, one sheet. All you can do is spend what you can afford and then go without. Kirbigrips 2/- a card! Well anyway I will stop binding now. Last cheque on N.P. Bank cashed through Barclays 4 June 43.

     I must go to bed. 10-30. A nice week ahead. Will finish this off in the a.m. I will give it to Jean Hodgson to sign for me.

     This may be very rushed as I shall have to go out any minute in the truck to get some oil as we have run out, and all cooking is done on oil stoves.

     I do hope you'll get the snapshots soon. I haven't said anything I meant to in this letter.

        Lots of love to you all.

 


 

                                                     176595 Cpl Maitland, A.T.S.

                                                     510 (GHQ) Coy. A.T.S.

                                                     M.E.F.

                                     8:V1:'44.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

             Am completely stupefied by the news. Was absolutely staggered when I first heard the news as I never really thought for one minute that there would be a second front at all. I am so terribly terribly sorry for Bunch, and only wish I were at home to help her if I could. I presume that Peter has gone by now, or will have very shortly. Life out here seems so very detached, and the war miles away, and everything just as it has been for months. It seems so silly and banal now to tell you about things out here.

     Am also very worried about Nanny, which you told me in your letter of June I which I got to-day Daddy. Do make her look after herself properly she never does. I shall write to her to-morrow afternoon. Please tell me all about her, I feel so cut off and worried. I couldn't bear anything to happen to Nanny.

    I hope too that poor little Bertie is better. How miserable and grumpy he must have been at the vets.

    All the above is very depressing. So I won't go on about it.

    Am staggered and delighted that I have £85 in the bank. I think I had better buy £10 war saving certificates. I will send a letter to the bank to that effect, and tell them to send the counterfoils home. I imagine that you can't buy them for me as I would have to sign them. I really have tried my best for the last 6 months to be economical. How lovely it will be too ton have your birthday presents. I am thrilled to bits about it. There are just so many things I want. You are so very generous to me. It worries me that I can do nothing in return except write letters. As I have Sat. am. Off this week, I shall be able to go into the bank and make a few enquiries. It takes longer for a letter from Helio to get to me here, than from home! That is by civilian post.

    Yesterday evening was really lovely. I borrowed a beautiful long black shirt and sequined top from Leslie, and felt one of the best dressed women in the room. It was very upstage, just so many Air Vice Marshalls and the like it was unbelievable, and of course everyone I knew. No army were there, so I was quite safe in evening dress. It was in what was the Palace Hotel, in Helio, a lovely place for a dance. We had a table outside on the balcony, Stan, Mimi, Alan and a lovely American in black brocade, and Harry. Donald got a lift up and back very happily in a Harvard. Lovely food and lovely drink. Turkey ham, curried prawns, I had all those together, and then two large plates of strawberry trifle. I almost made myself ill with gobbling. I had an awful job getting back to the barracks at 8-0 as there was an enormous march past just outside, the saluting base was the door I wanted to get in by. The King's birthday parade. I got off it by the skin of my teeth. People as usual passed out standing for so long in the sun. I picked up a little WAAF and half carried her here, and pushed her into the sick bay. There has been little work to do to-day thank goodness, as I am very tired and it is so hot, must be well over 110 again. When it passes that  mark my shirt is always wet at the back. It is a long day all through the worst of the heat, 8-0 till 1-0 and 2-0 till 5-0. Most people work in the evenings which I much prefer. It is fairly cool now though thank goodness.

      Have got 48 hours this week-end, so has Donald, he is going to see one Snowdon who is in the chamber of commerce or whatever it is here Daddy, and I am going to buy myself some birthday presents from you.

      The above all seems wrong compared with home. But what else is there to do? I shall finish this in the morning, as I am yearning for bed, it is 9-30.                     

 

13:VI:44

Isn't it awful, I'm sorry I never finished this. Its time now for my next letter.

Lots of love.


105

 

16:VI:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    The news still seems to be very good. Haven't seen anything this morning yet. Thank you very much for all the  letters which I have had this week. The cable actually arrived on my birthday, which was nice. Oddly enough I had both your letters the day before and saved them up and re read them on the right day. Yesterday also I had an invitation to see the bank, so presumably something has also arrived there. Anyway  I will let you know when I go and see the bank tomorrow. Am having a pleasant time working at what I shall buy myself! On Saturday, at the RAF club with Donald I got some crepe de chine - from you. My birthday was very dreary and very lonely. I was even duty NCO. However I went out to dinner in the evening which Jean and rang up Donald, and Pauline Cockroft came to see me about 11pm with a large box of chocolates, so I felt a little better! No one even knew it was my birthday. Donald gave me his present weeks ago - earrings as I told you. We had an absolutely lovely 48 hours last weekend. It seemed so very much longer than usual weekend. Didn't do anything of note. Donald has written to you Daddy about seeing man at the embassy. We bathed quite a few times. Donald is wonderfully brown. Saw Gerry Wilkes several times. He's been posted home to train gunners, and is thrilled to bits.

     Am very sorry I haven't written for a whole week, but I have just been suffering from one of my attacks when my loathing and disgust for the A.T.S. gets the better of me, and I can do nothing but read. However yesterday I got wind of a way of getting out and getting a civilian job. Could hardly restrain myself from applying there and then, but anyway I daren't hope that this might happen. It would be to marvellous. Anyway I shall try if Donald agrees. It would be so nice to do a job which in any way it uses my brain after doing nothing for six months and the prospect of never again doing anything, or not for a year anyway.

    Am having lunch with Lesley tomorrow. I have a day off. Will visit the bank. I am dying to get a cotton dressing-gown. They are so useful. Have also ordered a pair of shoes - brown leather. I had a letter from Miss Partridge which I thought was very sweet of her. I will write, also Gladys. Oh re. the RAF Club. There was nothing much  there I wanted last week, but Donald bought himself some khaki linen and is having a suit made. Should look very nice. Things vary very much from week to week. They have very useful things like towels, and gorgeous gloves, at a price! How very nice your suit sounds Mummy. I love velvet collars. You must all be very short of clothes. If I ever see anything suitable for English climates at the club I shall certainly get it for you, all they have at the moment is cotton and a little silk (100 pt a metre) I bought one and a half metres. Very extravagant.

    Could you possibly tell me what division Peter is in? I had a very upset letter from Bunchie naturally. I am so very worried for her. I presume he is not airborne anyway, I would like to know his div. though. I'm amazed how well we're doing.

   Please tell me about Nanny. What is the matter with her skin. I wrote to her a week ago.

    I shall try to send you some wool for your birthday mummy if I can find any. It goes out during the summer here.

    Is Carol Ann back yet? You must miss her. I hope Angela is progressing well. Bunch said now I come to think of it, she goes to Lytham to collect Carol Ann.

 

 lots of love and thank you for birthday presents

 

Did I remember to tell you this? That in spite of the A.T.S., I have really become very fond of Cairo? I'm always a little shy of admitting this, as the services out here definitely only admit to loathing Egypt!


106

18:VI:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

 

   Have just had a letter from you Daddy of 13th June. I shan't finish this now I expect, but I wanted to answer your to queries a) it is completely impossible for me to get specialist job. I have applied for a staff commission, the only type available, but first of all have to do six months administrative work as an officer, even supposing I get a commission. It's just a law. It makes me so angry that I am quite speechless. I have done nothing for six months of any use, and I see no prospect of doing anything of any use for at least nine months. But at the moment, there is a remote chance I might be able to get out of the A.T.S. and teach geography at the English school in  Heliopolis. I am ringing Donald today to ask what he thinks, and if he approves am having my name sent forward by the headmaster - if he likes me, to the British consul who then apply for my release from the A.T.S.. Don't place in reliance on this, I daren't, it's too good to be true. B) I know Donald has written to you this week Daddy, I just had a letter from him saying he has. I suppose he has told you what he thinks about after the war. He would like to go into the works, and I should like him to.  We have discussed it thoroughly over appeared a weeks.

    What is wrong with Nanny? I am awfully worried about her. How dreadful for her having to go into hospital. I must send her something. What a nice idea giving her £25. Please give a lot of my love. Oh dear it is awful to think of Nanny ill. Please do let me know about her.

    How maddening all this delay about you been made a J P and D L is. It does make me angry the time it takes anything to happen.

    I do hope that Bunch will have heard from Peter when you get this. It is so frightfully worrying for her. I don't know how she copes. I have written to Peter this morning. I sent it to Lytham as I believe that Bunch is there, and she knows the address.

    The invasion news still seems to be good, but I don't like the rocket planes. But I hope home is too far north, as usual I am afraid the Midlands will suffer.

    I had a lovely day off yesterday in. I went out in the morning, and went to the Bank to discover that both have your birthday present had arrived so I had a gorgeous time spending some of it! I thought a summer dressing gown and bedroom slippers, some under clothes, and have decided to have a linen suit, in pale blue,  made by Lesley's woman, who is wonderful but very temperamental. Then I had lunch with Lesley and Pat at their flat and stayed for the afternoon. Very nice and finally dinner with Marion at the YWCA. I am awfully fond of Marion and miss her a lot. She is marvellous about Jim who she imagines is in France.

  

   Later on. Opened my birthday parcel which came to day, you're an angel Mummy, it was lovely. All the things I want. I could hardly stop eating fudge all the afternoon. It's in perfect condition, but I can't help feeling it's naughty to send it to me. Will restrain myself nobly and leave it Donald as he adores it too. The book  looks very good. More when I read it so glad it's long, the talc and lavender water and soap are lovely. I use so much of all these things in the summer, its so hot. You can't get nice stuff like that out here really. Nor Mornay soap! I had a thoroughly nice afternoon, also a fat parcel of magazines. Am reading the Countryman at the moment. This evening I'm going to see the woman about this teaching job. Donald thinks it's a terrific idea. He's rather upset as the man he liked best at El Fidan - where he is, has just been killed I'm very sorry I wrote you such a dreary letter after my birthday. I miss you and home.

    Thank you very much to Mummy for the very nice letter you put in my birthday parcel.


107

23:VI'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

   I haven't had any mail all week, so I expect there will be some in the moment I have posted this! Excepting one am very upset letter from Bunchie on 16th which arrived this am. I'm so frightfully worried and sorry for her. Trouble is there's nothing one can do except hope. I do so hope she's had a letter from Peter by now. It's so very worrying for her. She said that so many people had heard including Joan White.

    I finished the book you sent me yesterday Mummy. It's very good indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Couldn't stop reading. The fudge, with difficulty, still remains in part for Donald tomorrow. We shall gorge when he arrives! My linen coat and skirt and brown shoes, latter for English weather! Are still be made. I am longing to wear the coat and skirt.

    In my last letter I muttered something about trying to get a job as a civilian. Well I think I amplified it a bit further to Bunch, I am trying to teach (me!) at the English school in Heliopolis. They are frightfully short of teachers, and through the British Council (what that is I don't know) it is possible to get people out of the services. I went to see the headmaster on Thursday, and he is charming. He said as far as he's concerned I can have the job - geography mistress and housemistress, subsidiary subjects of maths and history!! But as he says, by far the biggest barrier has yet to be surmounted, the army. He said as a formality, he would like me to see the senior mistress first, and then there will start applying for me. I, of course, do and can do nothing from my end. The contract is for one year, ending June, and passage paid home then if I wish to go. Salary about £28 a month. Sorry not to have told you about all this before, but a week ago, I hadn't heard of it or thought of it, and anyway, I don't think it will work. The A.T.S. will turn nasty and refuse to release the. You know, I should enjoy rubbing up my geog. history and maths!

    How is poor little Nanny. I rather dread opening letters at the moment, what with her and Peter. It seems so dreadful to think of her in that awful hospital. I sent her some sweets this week, and a rather pretty silver filigree brooch. I feel so far away and helpless, I can't bear to think of any of you ill. Do get her better quickly if you can.

     Donald is coming up tomorrow in his new khaki linen suit! We will have to thrash over the matter of the teaching. He is thrilled with the idea, I think you'll find him changed. He is much older and thinner, and nicer! I had a worried letter from him today because he hadn't heard from me since a phone call on Sunday. We're going to have dinner with Lesley and Pat on Sunday night. Did I tell you that Derek and Kit had been posted? Am sorry, but it's not far. Derek is going just beyond Mena, and Kit is going to live at Mena House with the baby, as Derek can't live out. It's fortunately the cheapest decent Hotel in Cairo. I shall be able to go there quite easily. Only about half an hour by a tram. Donald and I will go there for the weekend sometime when he is up. Marion is out there and she comes into Cairo quite often. They haven't gone yet though, I promised Kit I would save her one mouthful of fudge, we shall go in and see them over the weekend.

     There is a poster here for a dance for the P D S A. It makes me quite homesick. Daphne Mander was telling the that some wounded have arrived at Tettenhall. And just finishing the two Blackwood's in the parcel of 8th May. Daddy - last article I do think they're so good. They remind me terrifically of home, there is one excellent thing about the light in the Orkneys, How soft it is compared with the glare here - about light houses.

 

Lots of love R.

 


108                                     176595 Cpl Mail land,

                                        510 (GHQ) Coy A.T.S.

                                        M.E.F.

                     26:V1:'44.

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        Was very pleased to get your letter yesterday, and one from both of you to-day. Also one from Nanny. Am so pleased and relieved to hear that Bunch had had two letters from Peter. Though of course at the moment I don't know anything of the contents. She will feel a bit better I expect now that she is a little more in touch with him. The casualties must have been dreadfully high the first day or two. Marion has heard from Jim too. His squadron got it badly. He is all right though. She is terribly worried too, especially being out here and so far away. Yes, Mummy, Bunch sounded dreadfully upset in the letter I had from her in Lytham about Carol Ann having tonsillitis and not recognising her. Dreadful. Poor little child, I didn't know she was suffering from her tonsils. Will she have to have them out? Bunch always writes such angelic letters about her. She does sound so nice.

     I am immeasurely glad and relieved too to hear that Nanny is getting better and will be all right. She wrote me such a sweet letter to-day. Prom the hospital. I sent her off a parcel the other day, I hope it will arrive fairly soon.

    In fact your letters cheered me enormously when I arrived back this morning feeling all Monday morningish and dreary. Yours was waiting for me Mummy, and then I got three at lunchtime.

     As usual we had a lovely week-end. We stayed at Hel House, as there wasn't going to be room in the flat as Alan had a girl friend coming up, and then of course, they all stayed in Alex instead of coming straight back here from Cyprus, so we could have stayed in the flat as it was empty. Donald likes his new C.0. very much. I am very pleased. Makes such a lot of difference. Also he thinks that aeroplanes should be used on week-ends, another great advantage! Donald's flight sergeant is going on leave to-day, so I shall go dowm there for the night in a fortnight, as Donald will have to be there, and meet the new man.

     Lots and lots of people seem to have been posted home all of a sudden, their tours of duty have, ended together. I must find a few oddments to go with them. Harry the third Wing Co. in the flat is going home, also two other people we know very well in Helio. Also Gerry Wilkes. We saw him over the week-end too, and had dinner with Pat and Lesley. There will be some farewell parties flying around I suppose.

     This week, as a formality I have to see the senior mistress of the English School, and then the headmaster will start and try to get me released from the ATS. I do hope that you have been able to make out my last letters all about this. I can't remember whether I typed one to you about it or not. I think not. I think there is a fair chance they might, as I am kicking around and not doing anything here of any use. It is the one thing they will let you out of the ATS to do. As I told you the British Council do it. It is a good school. Lord Killearn has just given away the prizes! They have already got one girl out of the ATS to teach there. But the snag is that the authorities apparently prefer to release single women, or ones without their husbands there, so the headmaster told me, out of pure perversity, while the school like married people to teach. More balance! However I can but try. It sounds too good to be true to me.

     I saw Mrs Ralston today. She sent for me. Mostly to fill in my papers again for a commission. I shan't be going to an OCTU for another month or three as the next one starts in a fortnight and I have to go to another MEOSB as well. She said that she might post me for three months as an admin NCO, but only Cairo area or the canal not Palestine Syria or Alex. I don't mind much. As long as I am within week-end reach of Donald.

     How nice Daddy, your Deputy Lord Lieutenant ship coming through at long last. Is if for life. I suppose it must be as you get a proper certificate. Hope the J.P. will come through now.

     Yes of course I keep a most careful index of all the letters I get. I don't think I have lost any of yours. I keep a diary of all the letters I get, no. date etc. and all the ones I send. All my letters are also all kept neatly tied up in chronological order! The only trouble is that I am collecting so many!

     The news seems to be pretty good I think. The fall of Cherbourg was in the papers to-day. There has been less too about the robot planes. Why I don't know. Maybe they have decided not to publicise them any longer. Feel a bit worried about the Maitlands. Eleanor is rather nervous anyway. Incidentally Otis has got another Mentioned. That is two. He does work hard. Whenever anyone comes down from Syria that I meet, we always hear about him, as he is known throughout the length and breadth of the Middle East. It is amazing.

     We spent quite a lot of time at the week-end, studying the max and min charts for Helio for the last 3 years which are hung up in the club. Most interested to notice that the minimum for the month has been between 68 and 71, no wonder I wake up wet through. Highest max I think for the year so far is about 110.

     I think it would be a good idea Mummy, could you send my white and black evening  frocks, n.b. black slip. I think the plum coloured one is too suited to English weather!

     Sorry this is a rotten letter. My thoughts don't seem to be getting themselves down on paper at all well. I've been thinking half the day what I will say to you, it is most annoying. Anyway I am very relieved about Nanny, and temporarily about Peter. How is the baby? Lots and Lots of love.

 

Thank B. for getting that box for Nanny. Wish I'd thought in time.

 


109

1:VII:44

                                                    176595 Cpl Maitland, ATS.

                                                    510 (GHQ) Coy. A.T.S.

                                                    M.E.F.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     I haven't had any news of you since I last wrote,  except one very upset letter from Bunch saying that Peter was in France. Oh dear I am sorry about it all. I suppose that she is back home by-now. I do hope that Carol Ann's tonsils are better. Poor little child I suppose that she will have to have them out. How is Angela?

     I saw the senior mistress of the English School yesterday. She is a nice fat body, and rather sweet, and seemed to take it for granted that I would be teaching there next term. She was married last Saturday! Now I have to wait and see what happened, she said that she supposed that the head master would let me know what was going on. I hate waiting! I should enjoy it, I would have to teach geography and history up to Higher Cert., and possibly maths and even Latin to school cert.! I should have to work jolly hard to learn a little of all the subjects except Geog. That of course I could do with ease and no text books. IF I do teach I shall have to write home for some of my books. Sorry!

    I have a day off to-morrow, and am going to Kits christening. It will be nice, a small select party. I am v. sorry that Donald won't be there. Then I suppose in a week or two I shall get a similar invitation to Daphne's! Derek moved to his new station to-day, and Kit goes to Mena on Monday, Shall go out to Helio early to-morrow a.m. and have a bathe, and then elevenses with Mimi. Poor Stan has got impetigo. I suppose he picked it up in Cyprus. People are always getting it out here. Then to-morrow night, the Levi's are giving a dinner party for Marion, it is her wedding anniversary. They had a reception for her. She is trying anew to get home I believe. Anyway now she has  permission to get home if Jim is wounded. All the people who went to her wedding as far as poss. are going. I rushed round the town after work this a.m. to try and find some small thing for her and Kit's infant, Michael.

     There isn't much to tell you I am afraid, Donald might be coming up here on duty on Monday or Tuesday. I didn't quite gather why or what for, but I guess it is with the C.O. to get a new staff car. He will only be here for lunch though I am afraid. He is very busy as his invaluable Flight Sgt. is on 14 days leave, I shall go down there on Saturday afternoon if I can.

     I had dinner with Pauline at the YW on Thursday night. We had a pleasant evening gossiping like mad. She had just been up to Alex for the night, where the rest of, or the remains of my old lot are. Pauline is down here working, just for a month at GHQ.

    I have been making a pair of camiknickers most of the day. It is the remains of some silk I bought in Durban, it makes me wild I didn’t buy any more, I started them about 6 months ago, and lost interest. As long as I sit in the Barrack Stores, where I have been working for a fortnight, I can do anything I like, there is nothing to do there anyway. Very thrilling job. Undies get worn out rather quick3y here with all the washing. However my nice ones are still quite intact, as I hardly ever wear them, except for leave etc. Thank goodness.

      There was terrific chaos to-day. I have very funny working hours on Tuesdays and Sats. 8-15-11-30, 2-0 till 3-0, and 5-0 till 8-30. I had just gone off to do some shopping at 11-45, when the whole company started looking for me to go as an escort in an ambulance to the mental hospital not far from Donald and back. It never occurred to anyone to look at the hours I worked till too late! Thank god I was out. The girl is mad and very unmanageable, Turkish or something and no papers.

    I do hope that Bunch's mail is coming through well, it helps a lot. How is the draught? I do hope that all the fruit is not being ruined. Did you say something about strawberries, our own? How lovely it would, be to eat things without scalding them in permag. of potash for an hour! I have a box of it for grapes, and anything soft fruit. I saw a mango to-day. Must go and see my mango man in Hello to-morrow! He always remembers the kind I like! I am sure it is much too early though.

    Well I think I shall go to bed now, try on my camiknickers, and have a shower.

    Expect that I shall have some mail on Monday. I have had three Times this week. Read from cover to cover!

    Is Nanny out of hospital? Give her lots of my love.

                    Lots of love to you,


110

4:VII:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

    Thank you very much for your letter of last Wednesday which I got yesterday Mummy. So glad to hear that Bunch's letters are coming through all right. How awful having to watch for 2 people's mail from overseas! Heavens I do so hope Peter is and will be all right. Bunch didn't say anything of what he was doing in her last letter. What div is he? Am delighted to hear that Nanny is so much better. I couldn't understand what was the matter. I suppose really it's because she's tired and getting on in years. I had a very pleasant parcel books this am Thank you for the Jarvis book. He's excellent but Egypt, of course he lived here for so long. Both Donald I will enjoy it. I also enjoy the sport and country fat stock! Do you getting weekly now? And all the odd pamphlets.

    There isn't much news. Donald's C.O. has just announced that work stops on Saturday at 1.0 and starts again on Monday am, the place is left speechless! He is also getting communications aircraft, so I shall be able to fly now. I am longing to be able to go down to Ismailia for the night on Saturday, though at the moment the days off are difficult to get when I want them. Am pleased to hear that you approve of my teaching. I think it's an excellent idea. I have a course heard no more, it will take weeks to filter through the proper channels, as you know Daddy! And official channels are I believe a relatively simple out here, I don't even know if the headmaster has applied yet. And just wait in fear and trembling. Sunday was a pleasant day, Kit's baby was christened Michael David at Heliopolis English church. About 15 people there. Pity Donald couldn't manage it. As usual the parents looked left out! Then they had a nice little sherry party at the flat in this same block as Stan on the same floor! So I spent the rest of the day there and bathing. That night there was a farewell dance in same flat for someone posted to Corsica I was worn out starting work at seven on Monday morning.

    Am glad that you liked all the odd cuttings, I collect oddments the I mean to send you, and then wonder really if they are of any interest. I sent a paper off yesterday with a photograph of the YWCA in Ismailia. And so am sorry Donald and I are so awful always in photographs.

    I rushed over to Helio today to the Bank as I stopped work early, and had a bathe too. The water was lovely and clear and cool (quite 70 degrees I expect!) Hope to bathe in the canal next weekend. Have now had my hair permed again, I can't cope unless I do, with all bathing and sweat. The children are all such wonderful swimmers. Little things under five dive off the top board! It amuses me so to see Kit and Daphne's babies lying in bed or in the grass in a cotton vest and nappy. They don't need wool or blankets. They sleep in sheets in big cots. But they don't get pink cheeked like English born children.

   Am going to have lunch with Pat and Lesley tomorrow, which will be nice. Last time I was there Lesley was in bed with a bad attack of gippy tummy.

Lots of love R


1766595 Cpl Maitland,

                 No. 111                              510 (GHQ) Coy. ATS

                                10:V11:'44            M.E.F.

   My Darling Mummy and. Daddy,

        I am afraid that it is nearly a week since I wrote to you. Sorry. Daddy, I am awfully sorry to hear about your ribs, it is bad luck, that is the second time you have done it isn't it? I do hope that they are mended now, and that awful enormous plaster is off, I think that that is almost the worst part. It is naughty of you to go climbing around on ropes,

     Have had a lot of mail this week, lovely. One from Bunch this morning that took 4 days, the quickest yet. Marvellous. I must say this before I forget, as I have lots to tell you. Re David. I do hope he comes out here. I do hope he does, much safer. I think I should like my grey coat and skirt. Donald says no, but I think I shall be able to get a new one sometime, and I never could out here. If he does, tell him when he gets here to go to any RAF exchange, and ask for RAF Ismailia, and then 26 AACU, and then Donald, his extension is 35 at the moment, but at meal time officers mess, 26 AACU. He will have to go very near there anyway when he lands I think. If he is coming out to do courses, he will be under Stanley Grant, so we shall be able to follow his movements quite easily, though of course Stan is at the HQ of Training Group out here, I would love to see him. Poor Hilda, it is a 4 year tour unmarried. Shouldn't tell her though.

     Otis suddenly turned up from Aleppo on Friday evening, so I didn't write to you» Lovely to see him again, so he took me down to see Donald at lunch time on  Saturday, as Donald couldn't get away for the week-end. We went down in a staff car which he borrowed for the week-end. The most comfortable journey there and back I have had yet! We met Donald's new C.O. who is nice, and was charming to me. Went to the French Club, where of course Otis has been known for 15 years. It is quite fantastic travelling round Egypt with him. Everyone from Generals to suffragis rush up to him. Donald had to come up and select a new staff car, as I said he might have to, which was very convenient, so we all came up after lunch  yesterday, and, Donald went off and tested cars this a.m., and we all had lunch together, and then Donald went back. I think Otis is staying about a week. It was a very hectic week-end, as always when Otis is about. We had a lovely time, Donald might come up next week-end, if Otis is still here. I do hope he is. It is so funny having quite a family together out here, no one ever believes us, when being introduced as Maitland, Maitland and Maitland!

     When I got back this morning, there was I am delighted to say, a letter from the H.M. of the English School, saying that he would be delighted to offer me the job for 1944/45, and he would apply for me at once, and would I please do nothing at all from my end, as they had found that the wisest policy. I must type a nice little formal note accepting after this. It is a Boarding School, though mostly for day children, and I think I shall live in for the terms, unless Donald can get posted here, if I get it, as it is so much cheaper. They pay about 27 to 30 pounds Egyptian a month, and it costs about 6 or 8 to live in    and you are jolly lucky out here if you find anywhere to live for £20 a month. Isn't it appalling. Now all I have to do is wait. I am so glad that something is going on anyway.

     I remember Faith, Joy's friend, nice girl.

    I must do something about Philippa, it is awful of me, I really will this week. I am very, very glad that Nanny is getting better, you must miss her, She wrote me two sweet letters. I am writing by this post. It must have been awful for her. I couldn't understand what was wrongs at all. Hope she has got the parcel by now. Did I tell you of the magnificent one I had this week from you, dozens of magazines. Vogue and the like. I do enjoy them. Donald's parachute section tent was burnt down. He is president of the court of enquiry. I'm hoping, ... they have worn so well, or rather are.

    I was thinking all the way back here in the car how lovely it would be to get home, even to the awful weather!

   Well I suppose that I had better write a nice little note to the H.M.

   Will finish this/off in the a.m. with all the last minute things I always think of.

   8.30 a.m. Don’t think there is any more news. Am hoping to go out to Mena and see Kit on Thursday. She's very lonely without Derek, he only gets over for the odd day.

 

Lots of love,


19:VII:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

I had two letters yesterday morning from each of you off 12:VII thank you, all about seeing Mrs Chitty. Its v noble of you Daddy to go and see her, thank you. She's very nice to talk to. I don't know what the new woman is like. I sent your letter to Donald Daddy, and so hope he'll answer it all right. Am interested in what she said about me, but am afraid that I want nothing but to get out of the A.T.S.. There's nothing I can find bad enough I can find to say of the A.T.S., or in fact women in uniform at all, and the A.T.S. out here are by far the worst treated, and their reputation is such that it makes me curl in horror every time I think of it. I am sorry to say all that, and it's a thing that you will never understand I hope. But you ask anyone of my generation who is in the misfortune to have anything to do with the A.T.S.. They have, I consider thoroughly let me down in the job racket, or I might have had some slight conscience over jobs, but as it is I have none. I ran into the headmistress at the weekend, and Donald and Otis were there too, which I thought a good thing. She said they already regarded me as being on the staff and were leaving no stone unturned to get me out. All I hope is that they succeed or I shall have to find something else. Am sorry about all this for you because I know that the sheer degradation of the A.T.S. is a thing that is so completely outside your knowledge that we will never see "my" point... Oddly enough Daphne Mander was sitting on my bed the other night, and said laughingly how horrified you and her family would be if they could see us. Ma don't worry about Donald having to leave me to come home, he won't. He can volunteer to stay as long as he likes. His marriage allowance will be doubled if I get out of the A.T.S.! If I do, he is going to try for a posting to Cairo so that we can have a flat. In the A.T.S., except as a staff not admin officer, I can never live out. WRNS and WAAF can whenever their husbands are near, so we have never tried to be stationed together at all. We had a lovely weekend, we went out on Saturday night to a club at an American camp near Stan's flat, at least about 10 miles, with Otis, and the American who flew Donald and me down from Aleppo at Xmas. It's a wonderful place, marvellous food, all so well built. We were frightfully amused, they showed us their hut, and it has an enormous refrigerator which they had "found". They fetched us and took us back about 1:30am in a staff car! We had an amusing Sunday morning teasing Stan about it as anything to do the Americans has the same effect on him as the A.T.S. on me! Otis is going back to Aleppo once again today or tomorrow. Oh dear I haven't got nearly enough space to write all I want in this or answer anything. Am greatly relieved to see Peter is at Brigade H Q and has a cow etc! I am at the moment in sick bay with another boil on my behind. Hence the odd writing. It's much better now I came in yesterday, Monday am. It's quite comfortable and masses of books, and anyway I sleep all day. Will write again tomorrow and lots of love

Had a parcel of books today, lovely I am in sick bay! thanks


113

24:VII:'44

 

    My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

           You will have to excuse this letter, because I have been trying to type an application for myself and another girl to be discharged without any mistakes, and I simply can't type without making dozens.

      As usual I have been bad about writing to you. Things seem to have happened all of a sudden at the end of the week lately, when I normally write to you.

    I don’t know what to make of the news at all. It sounds too good to be true. I do hope that Peter isn't too near Caen. Oh dear it is dreadful. It must all seem so much nearer at home too. I must write to him again. Poor Bunch. I had a letter from you last night when I got in of 18th Daddy. Thank you. It is just under a week since I last wrote. Well on Friday I got up, my boil is almost better, and the M.O. told me not to work till Monday, and it seemed rather silly to sit around the barracks all by myself for all that time, so I quickly shoved a few things into a bag, and turned up in Ismailia for a day or two. Donald was delighted to see me. Just missed that last room at the YW which was a pity. My legs were very jellyish. We had from tea-time Friday till the 8-0 train last night, Sunday. Spent all Sunday and Saturday afternoon sunbathing at the Jardin D'Enfants, part of the French Club. The whole thing is run by the Canal Company for its employees, and the Jardin is for the kids, and is just where the canal enters the lake from the North. Open to officers and families for the duration like the French Club. It was so lovely bathing in salt water and lying on the beach. I have got terribly burnt, mostly brown, especially my face (nose!). We swam across the canal, about 300yds there and 300 back. A convoy went by while we were having lunch. The channel is so near  inshore that we can hear what they said on board quite easily. Donald spent quite a lot of time teaching me to crawl, I managed fairly successfully. My hair is now all salt and sand, I bathed without a if cap it is pleasanter, and you get wet anyway, so what the hell.

     Then this morning I had a letter from the headmaster telling me that he had spoken to Mrs Chitty 's  successor, and that she considered that I had a good chance of being released from the A.T.S., and that it was time for me to apply formally. (I have discovered that he is trying get another girl out too, who has taught for eight years). In the same breath, the OC here sent for me this afternoon, to say that she had had an application for me, and did I want the job. She of course couldn't say one way or another. It has to go to England. Though I imagine if the head A.T.S. out here recommends it, I shall get discharged. Donald was thrilled to bits when I rang up this evening. The CO was extremely nice about it, and quite saw my point, and said that it that if it failed, she would most certainly push my commission through, though she couldn't see why I had failed. I suppose that I shall have to wait another three or four weeks now.

     Donald says that he wrote you today Daddy.

     It is very worrying about Nanny is blisters not clearing up. Can't they it possibly trying the new treatment? Poor little thing am sorry for her, it must be so uncomfortable. Couldn't you bully them a bit Mummy to try something else? You must miss her so. How lovely all garden sounds. We get tomatoes all year round here, at least they look the same, and they're called tomatoes, and there the resemblance ends! The cucumbers are good though. They are little and small. Also I love courgette, small cooked things which look rather like cucumbers. I like eggplant too. Below would much rather have sprouting broccoli, and English cabbage!

   Yes I do hope that next winter we shall be able to up the Nile, but at the

moment it is far too hot, the temp. will be about 120 in the shade at Luxor! One

normally goes in there in the winter. I want to go to Beirut and the Lebanon again, too. Unfortunately upper Egypt was out of bounds a lot of last winter due to the bad malaria epidemic. I don't know if that sort of thing is reported at home or not. The natives died off everywhere like flies. It is endemic of course, but there was a particularly virulent kind about last winter.                                         

   Well I really am going to bed now, will finish this in the morning.               

   Did I remember to thank you for the Sunday  f the Invasion They were interesting. I am also looking forward to my weekly Times on the subject.

   Well I must and work now. I suppose as always, I shall have forgotten everything I meant to say.

 

Lots and Lots of love, R.

 


 

114

                                510 Coy ATS

27.VII.44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

 

   I am writing twice this week! No more news re teaching since I wrote to you on Monday. I don’t expect to hear anything for about 3 week now, till the application has returned from the War Office. The news sounded remarkable, I can't think what's going to happen. I was thinking that I really wouldn't know what to do if the war ended tomorrow! But Stanley was there at the time and assured me that I should go on working as usual! It is all very worrying about Peter. I do wish it had been he and not the Staff Captain who had been wounded. Poor, poor Bunch. She said Peter said there was no beer in France. Out here I have realised that HM Forces fight on it, so it must be bad!

   My nose certainly caught the sun last weekend, it blistered slightly and is now peeling. I look very beautiful as it is a fetching pink! The rest of me is very brown. Thank you very much for your letter of 21st Ma. Had it yesterday. Had one from you Daddy on Tuesday of the 18th. Daddy are your ribs all right now? You haven't said any more about them. The garden sounds so lovely. Its all very parched and hot and dry here now. You never see the lovely pale colours you do at home. Everyone seems to have gone home in the last week or three. Harvey Matherson and another Wing Co we know very well, Gerry Wilkes etc, It makes me homesick. Gerry and Harvey were crazy to go home to their wives. Am glad to hear that you have still a bit of sugar left. I can' send NAAFI stuff. Am dispatching you birthday present tomorrow. Hope it will arrive. Ditto Carol Ann's.

   Am glad to hear that Nanny is better in herself, but I do so wish that her blisters would heal up. Poor little thing. Went to see Kit last night. She has left Meno House and gone back to Heliopolis as it was hopeless having a young baby in a hotel. She is dying for me to share a flat with her so that Donald and Derek could come at weekends. Gosh it would be heavenly. We could live quite cheaply. I wrote to Donald to se what he thinks. He likes Kit and Derek very much. Still it all depends on what happens. Shall be going down to Ismailia again in a fortnight - or rather 9 days for the party in the mess in my new blue coat and skirt (present from you!) hire. I think it will look divine. I have hunted Cairo and found some ?? ?? and a good dress maker who actually speaks English! It is long sleeved, with a blouse back and high little lapels, no blouse or anything, and a straight skirt.

  I had a letter from Pug the other day and rang him up this morning. He sent his love. He is getting Marge and June ??? here and is very pleased. I am going to dinner with him on Wednesday.

   Its v. nice of you to ask the Maitlands to the Manor House. They are having rather a bad time I am afraid. Donald is worried about them. I have heard of a number of people whose houses have been hit. Daphne Mander says her mother has evacuees. Hope to heaven we don’t have any at home. I am looking forward to seeing David.

 

Lot of love R.


 

 

115 510 Coy ATS

31.VII.44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

 

    I had another letter from you Daddy yesterday of the 25th written I Salcombe. How odd it must be down there now. What was Gare Rock like? I have so loved it down there. Must go back sometimes after the war. Donald would like it. What a dreadful journey you had. Hope coming back wasn’t as bad. I didn’t know you were actually thinking of selling the Crane. I'm rather vague I am afraid about what all the trouble is about. The Crane has never been much use though has it? Letter from Bunch today saying she hadn't had as much mail as usual. Poor child. Beata sounds so delicious. Its awful that I will never have seen her as she is now. Tomorrow I am going to hunt around to find something for her birthday. I sent yours off Mummy at the end of the week. Was delighted to get my glasses by the parcel mail. Its marvellous having dark ones again. The glare is dad in the middle of the day. They are very nice frames. Am sending cheques by ordinary mail. Thank you awfully for getting them. I was very bright over your last letter. I have for a fortnight been trying to remember to thank you Daddy for the scissors which are just what I wanted, but I think  I added a PC to a letter to Peggy instead of yours at the end of the week! She will be rather surprised. Yesterday morning at the pool with Minnie?, and then tea with Kit. My day off. Tonight I and having dinner with Lesley! Also a fitting for my blue coat and skirt. Haven't told Donald, will wear it - 48 hours next weekend. Lesley and Pat are going down too for 26 AACU new mess party. We are all going to stay at the YWCA. It will be fun. Pat used to be stationed there you remember with Donald. He's now at GHQ. He's off flying. He lost 5 aircraft in a month or something in his last operational tour and his nerve has gone. Mummy re tinned butter. B. mentioned it in her letter. I very much doubt of I can get any. There was none last time I sent a food parcel. But I will try. If repeat if I get out of the ATS I will be able to send you sugar and I think probably butter from the NAAFI. Highly illegal of course, but I imagine they don’t censor parcels. Yours or your letters never are. I'll look round today anyway and see what there is. If I get out of the ATS, I get a NAAFI ration card and can buy food cigarettes etc there as an officers wife. Its vaguely rationed I think, but is a marvellous saving, you can't buy tea, sugar, white flour in Cairo. It's all on the Black Market, hence the expense of sweets, cakes etc. There's no lack of it at all in restaurants, but I imagine there is in civilian houses. Oh also paraffin and I think cooking oil, and you know how much of the two latter are used out here! But of course I don’t know very many real civilians who are not wives or children of HM's forces or Embassy  or British Council, they all get NAAFI stuff. I think Donald just missed leaving Egypt by the skin of his teeth. His old CO applied for him, but Air Headquarters said no as the unit (his old CO's) was off any moment. Donald's very flattered by the compliment but pretty relieved. He is also relieved as he never liked the man anyway though he was a very good CO. This application should enhance his reputation at Air HQ as his old CO is well though of there. I got hot and cold all over at the thought of Donald going. But, I think that scare is over. Fancy, my second summer here is nearly over. In another month it will be a bit cooler. The heat hasn’t affected me much this year.

Lots of Love R.

 


116 510 Coy ATS

2.VIII.44

 

Darling Mummy and Daddy,

   Had your letter of the 28th this morning, Mummy. I regretted writing that letter about the ATS the moment I posted it. I am very sorry because I knew it would worry you. I do think that about them, but don't worry, I don't really live in  the ATS at all. I don’t think, talk or write ever if I can avoid it. I am very fond of Cairo, oddly enough as all the troops always hate it! I have got lots of friends, and I see a part of the world I would never really have known otherwise. And of course I have very, very happy weekends and leaves, and of course I love the weather and the eternal sun. Am very sorry again for writing all that to you. I get fits when I think about the ATS, hatred pours out of my very pores! You know I always feel violently for or against something! Anyway, don’t worry. As long as Donald's here I'm all right, and there's no reason to suppose he shouldn't stay here. This isn't my day for writing to you and as I wrote 2 days ago, am afraid there's no news. So I shall finish this at the end of the week. But I was so distressed about your letter, Mummy. I had a very nice dinner with Marion on Monday, she's a dear. I miss her a lot. She's at Meno, near Mere House and the Pyramids. I usually see her every 10 days or so. I have arranged to get you some butter, Mummy and am sending it as soon as I have decided how to make up the 5 lbs. Can only send 2 lbs of one thing. Shan't tell you what else, then it will be more fun opening it. Am at the moment trying to sit on my excitement, in case I don’t get this job. I keep on planning all the time. Did I tell you or was it Bunch that Kit wants me to share a flat with her if I get out. Then Donald and Derek could come at weekends or when they could. Donald said in a letter yesterday he thinks it’s a better and better idea. We reckon we could do it on £20 each. Flats with 2 or 3 bedrooms, bath small kitchen dining room and sitting room furnished are about £20 a month in Helio if you are lucky. The suffragi's about £6. Though Kit has a girl who would be better, for £3, and food about £14. If I get the job I will get about £30 or £27 between the two. And then Donald's marriage allowance nearly doubles if I get out of the ATS. Goes up to 6/9 per day. The school is about 2 or 300 yds from all these big new blocks of flats on the edge of Helio - just where Almaro begins. The end of the metro tram. I should adore to return some of the hospitality we've had from Stan, Kit, Lesley etc. I would want some of my winter clothes, but not many really, the winter is so short, only January and a bit of December and Feb. after that you can wear short sleeves again outside, or at any rate a jersey. I feel dreadful grumbling about the ATS because really I am so lucky. Poor Donald had another boil and gippy tummy last week. He's naughty, he brought the boil on squeezing spots. Still he's miles better. Alan was so naughty the other day, Donald and I were talking to him, and I said how sorry I was for people starting their 4 or 3 years in MEF at this stage of the war; Alan said serve them right thinking they can spend all the war in England! I've met quite a few lately who've been out here a month or two only. A draft of 31 ATS are expected at 8 tonight. I've been out here monger than most women.

   Anyway very, very sorry again. Please don’t worry Mummy.

   I don’t often let the ATS get me down. Anyway its 3 weeks tonight I might be a free woman again. Must send Beata's birthday parcel this evening. There are no children things here at all suitable for England. They're all sunsuits and linen or cotton! I had a letter from Nanny too today, also Beryl and Merriall

Lots of Love R.

Are you getting enough milk?

Having dinner - a party - with Pip at Gegine? tonight.


117

 

8:VIII:'44

 

My darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    Had a lovely 48 hours in Ismailia. Got back on the late train last night arriving in Cairo at midnight. Horrid journey by train, it takes four hours. The party in the mess on Saturday night was a terrific success, I must say 26 AACU does give the most wonderful parties, I like all people so much. They had a good band too. Pat and Lesley were down for the weekend too, for the party which are so nice. The funniest incident of the evening was the chief of all Egyptians turning up, of the army I mean, plus another Egyptian General, to everyone's extreme surprise, as no one could remember sending him an invitation! Jarvis was so right in his book, Oriental Spotlight, that promotion goes entirely by weight in Egypt. They looked so incongruous and funny at that party in their red hats, tarbushes. They clashed badly anyway with their red tabs. Donald's AOC was there too, a nice round man, AVM Langford Sainsbury, who told me all about his cook for hours, who would insist on giving him six-course lunches and dinners. He looked like it. The whole of Sunday we spent at the United Services Club with Lesley and Pat and the man Donald shares tent with. Bathing and sunbathing and, on my part eating mangoes which grow there, quite divine. My new blue linen suit, and a blue and white striped gingham frock, which I bought as birthday presents from you, amongst other things, were a terrific success, I felt nice and smug and new!

   Was delighted to get your letter Daddy, saying that you had heard from Donald. I keep on thinking of where we could live. Knowing how fondly you both are of apportioning out your goods when you depart this life, I might tell you that we both have our eye on the Manor House! You needn't bother to hasten your departure to other worlds! I am extremely worried about you and evacuees. It would be quite impossible I know for you to cope, unless you let off the maid's wing again to a family. When I heard from Daphne Mander that they had some, I was afraid that we'd have to too.

    The new seems remarkably good, the Americans are doing very well in Brittany. It reminds me very much that some of we stayed there. I can remember a lot of the towns they mentioned, Dinan was very pretty. Hope to heaven Peter is all right. I am always vaguely frightening when I open your letters.

   I have a of course no more news about teaching. I rang up the head master this morning, but he has gone away for a week, though I think there is little hope of hearing anything for another week or two. I have to go on another MBOSB on 4th September. But I certainly ought to know one way or another by then. Oh dear I do hope it works, I can think of little else at the moment, but the joys of being a civilian. If this works, Donald will then try slowly and carefully to get a posting up here. This is almost too much to hope though. We are thinking of having a weeks leave over Donald's birthday, he is due for one before the end of August. It is amazing to think he will be 26. People still think he's older than that, he is so much thinner. We're both very worried up my tummy, which gets fatter and fatter. Peggy told me I should never managed to retain a concave one out here. I suppose it is tis the climate, I eat very little really, and do quite a bit are rushing about. Donald bullied me and I've given up sweets entirely, and eat grapes instead and hope I will get gippy tummy, but they don't! I started getting a tummy round about the end of the year. I hope that it will go when I get home again.

    I think I'm rather tired, and so will stop writing this now, and eat my usual ration of grapes and go to bed.

 

9:VIII:44

 

   Will just finish this so that it can go this morning. If I should get a out of the A.T.S. send everything to me c/o of Donald 26 AACU RAF MEF. It is much the best way. Civilian mail is fantastically bad, and I imagine, thoroughly dishonest. It takes four days from Cairo to Heliopolis! Donald's going to Alex for a couple of days this week, and up to Palestine - North - next for a couple of days, nice for him. The new C.O. is going round the place. Donald has offered to drive his car up as he wants it there, in Palestine I mean.

    To my extreme surprise last night I got a copy of the Weekly Express and Star straight from them. Why I'm not at all sure. It's full of plans for Wolverhampton houses. Also I had a parcel books, thank you very much. And lots of pamphlets. Will occupy me for ages. It is nice getting all things, I always know I will get something in the parcel post.

    How is Nanny? I do wish she could get out of hospital. It will make her so very weak. You must miss her so. I wrote to her at the end of last week. How long do my letters take normally? Must go and post this quickly.

Lots and lots of love R.


Sorry, this came to end very abruptly and long before I expected it!

 

118

 

11:VIII:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

           News at the moment is non existent I am afraid so this will be very dull, the only thing of import I told Bunch and asked her to tell you. On Thursday morning I got an unexpected summons with the other girl who is going to teach at the school, to go and see the DADATS, a Major. It was to see the terms under which the army is/may be discharging us. We stipulated that in our letters, it was all the things I knew already though. Pay, £27 a month, year's contract, repatriation etc. Anyway I automatically get repatriated with Donald as a civilian, and probably on the same boat. The ATS woman was very nice, and treated us as civilians to our great surprise, and seemed to take it for granted that we would be OK. It is all quite shattering this waiting. War seems to be one long wait. Then later on, in the evening, last night, I discovered that one of the girls in my flat works for the man who does all this, or rather his stooge, and she told me that so far everything is OK, but it has to go home I am afraid first. The headmaster's letter was a masterpiece. 640 British children, and he couldn't open the school without me! It is the only English school here.      

      I had a letter from you Mummy on Wednesday, of the 4th, I had completely forgotten that it was Aug. Bank Holiday till your letter. Now l think about it, Donald did say down the phone how had I managed to get Bank Holiday, but it didn't connect; I do hope that it was fine and the fete was a success, you do seem to have had such horrid weather this year. I feel awfully cross, I wish that l had thought of trying to scrounge some sugar before, so that you could have had it for all the soft fruit. Still sugar doesn't go bad. I sent off some groceries to-day, you must have had a hectic time with all the fruit. Do wish I had been there to help, I always enjoy it; Does Bert still eat raspberries. Daphne Mander and I had one of occasional long natters about home yesterday, she is expecting victor Martin to turn up any moment! I was instantly reminded of Colin Elwell mimicking him.

      I am extremely sorry about the Olivers. I always thought they were such a happy couple, so nice both of them. What is she going to do? I imagine his career in the RAF will not be as successful as it might have been. Whatever else I fail in, I am determined I will make a success of our marriage. I always have been determined.            ^

    l had two very sweet letters from Joy, saying how sweet it was hearing Bunch talk about the children. It beats me! I am longing for the photographs.

    Donald has gone off to Alex for a couple of days, and is going up to Palestine next week, so I can't ring him up about all the new developments, which is annoying. He is going to drive the C.0.'s car up to North Palestine as he wants it up there. l suppose he will come back by air. I was quite cross, he wouldn't let me sit in the nose of the Baltimore in which he picked me up on Sat. You can see so well, but Donald's really quite a nervous type in that way, Otis is too.

     We are going on a week's leave to Port Said on the evening of Sat 26 till the Monday week, (before duty!) It is a nice little place I think, it is a bit difficult to know where to go for a week, and as Donald says, the amount of money we spend is in direct proportion to the size of the place! It will be lovely, and then l DO HOPE that I shall be discharged almost immediately.

     We are going to stay at the  Eastern Exchange, there isn't anywhere else apparently. We are also going to visit Simon Artz!

 

Lots and lots of Love,


 

Letter cards are now uncensored, see           I76595 Cpl Maitland,

reverse.                                        510 Coy ATS

 

            119

                               16:Vlll:'44.

   My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                              l am very tired l might warn you. Have just been and had dinner at the new NAAFI EFI club for the Women's services about 150 yds from the barracks. Quite a nice place, and an excellent dinner, for 15 pt. (the same as the YW exactly.) I had soup, fish cake, boiled chicken, peas and boiled potatoes, so nice after the eternal chips which I have always disliked anyway. Banana fritters and coffee. Well cooked and served. That is for 3/-. controlled price outside is 30 pt for dinner and 25 for lunch. NAAFI run excellent clubs out here, mostly for officers. I have been to masses of them, Aleppo, Tripoli Syria, Beirut, Malta, Cairo, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv etc. oh, and, of course Alex.   Oh and Kantara lots of times. These are all officers only, but I of course go as a guest. I have had an awful long day to-day, work 8-15 till 1-0, 2-5, and then  ABCA till 6.30. I know it doesn't sound anything compared with hours of work at home, but to-day has been especially hot, must have been about 110 F. Of course out here normally one never works in the heat of the day like that.,

      I rang up the Head master this morning as he has just come back from his holiday. He couldn't tell me much, except more or less what I knew already. Miss Wagstaff, Mrs Chitty's successor has said yes, so has Brig. Foster, the GHQ man who deals with that sort of thing, he is the AAG I believe. It is now in the hands of the War House, I am getting worried as there is so much I must do, mostly, about the actual teaching line. I want to find out exactly what I am supposed to be doing in the syllabus line. I am going to enjoy this. I think it will be so funny anyway. Anyway the Head Mistress, the nice motherly female, Mrs Horrocks, is at Port Said for a fortnight with her husband, so I can't get on with any work till she comes back, and I can get hold of all the information from her. and of course where -L can get some books. Sometimes I feel very overawed by the responsibilities I am taking on. Such a change after the ATS. Still I know it will be very good for me. The humorous side of course you won't be able to appreciate, because you are not on the spot, but so many of the children go as often as I do to the club to bathe and have tea. They all look very sophisticated and most unlike children at home of that age, though they are English mostly. They must all know me so well by sight too. I get all the dirt on them from Mimi! Age, parentage etc.

     This is a very babbly letter, I know Daddy, I felt so ashamed about Philippa when I got your letter that I rang her up once on Sunday, the same day and twice on Monday. Donald and I were going to meet her and her fiancé on Sunday evening, but since Donald has gone up to Palestine instead this morning, I shall have to ring up and fix a tea date or lunch. It is just absolute laziness, and the fact that I find Philippa amazingly uninteresting. I am very sorry, and I will try and keep up  with her.

       After three tries I have at last succeeded in getting the butter off, three times the parcel was returned to me overweight, now there is nothing in it. Finally I took it myself to the post office in GHQ and bullied the man till he took it. Packing weighs so much.

       I am very glad indeed to hear that Nanny is out of hospital. I hope that you could scrounge some petrol Daddy, it would be awful for her to do that awful journey by train in that weak state. Oh I do hope she will be all right. It does  worry and upset me so out here to think of her ill. I shall be looking forward to more news when the next mail comes in which, should be any minute now. Usually twice a week , and I had your letter on Sunday Daddy, and one from B.

      The news is terrific, I wasn't surprised at all when I saw the paper yesterday evening after all the bombing of the South of France, and other signs. Doing very well too I think in the North. Bunch seems to be hearing well from Peter. We had a very interesting ABCA on UNRRA.

      I have had two Weekly Express and Stars? For why, do you send them or what. I like looking at them. This time there was the bit about the new DL's! Lovely names they have Daddy. I am busy showing it to all and sundry. Also a picture of Ian Beddows. I must show it to Daphne, l will go and see if she is in when I have finished this. She is so funny. Mostly without meaning to be.

     l am going to see This is the Army, that revue, I think on Friday night with some people Peggy gave me an introduction to, and whom I have only just met, when Otis was down last time. Married couple of their age, nice, and v. kind to me. Two lovely children, one at the Eng. School! Isn't it terrific, Donald may get £45 arrears of marriage allowance or somesuch. And we are going on leave on Sat. week... He said that he had had a v. nice letter from you Daddy, and that he had much enjoyed the astronomy book, I want to read it, will do so on leave.

  It was reviewed in my geog. journal, I must stop. Oh for the peace of the Manor Ho. Lots and lots of love.


120

                                  21:Vlll:'44.

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                I meant to do so much this evening, and then I ran into Marion about 7-30, after ringing Donald, and went and had dinner at the YWCA instead with her, still it was a nice evening, Donald is still up In Palestine, which is maddening as we are going on leave on Saturday, and he won't be back till Thursday at the earliest. He has been away from Ismailia off and on for nearly three weeks, I haven't had an communication with him. I should love to buy him a birthday present, thank you both v. much. As we are going to Port Said, it might be a good idea to look around Simon Artz. I haven't bought him anything yet, it will be so nice being on leave for his birthday, we have never been together for one yet. It is to-day week. I have so much to say, that everything will be rather brief. Re. Philippa, l had lunch with her last Thursday, and am having tea with her and her fiancé to-morrow, and am going to try to get Donald to manage to meet them before we go to Port Said on Saturday. I will get her a wedding present, and I think I had better get something from us. Her wedding is a fortnight on Sat. (P.W.B. means Political Warfare Branch, quite simple;)

    I had a letter from you Mummy of I7th when I got in 15 minutes ago, they are  so quick, I am appalled that mine should take so long, they are all posted the day after I write them. I know censoring isn't the trouble, as Jean just signs them while I watch! This will go at 9-30 a.m. to-morrow.

     I must get your birthday letter off to-morrow Mummy. I am amazed how long that parcel to Nanny took, so I am afraid that both yours and Carol Ann's parcels will be very late, I am sorry. I haven't yet done anything about dried  apricots, but I will. Lesley says that they are available. The difficulty always is tins, as the ants are so bad, the last parcel got ants in it, in spite of the fact the sugar is in a tin. Still sugar is their big passion in life, as well as upsetting me.

     I spent a very pleasant day with Pug yesterday. Thank heaven a new order has come out and we can wear civilian clothes on 24 hours off, so I went to Gezira quite happily in my blue linen suit, as it didn't matter who I met. We had lunch and then watched the cricket, it was all green and cool and peaceful. Then tea and Pug played croquet. He is all set for a match with you Daddy, then a drink. He is awfully kind to me, and always wants me to go to lunch or dinner. I do wish we could do something in return. He hasn't heard yet when Margie and June will be up. They haven't a passage yet, and so he is very unsettled. I wrote him a thank you letter this am! I of course saw everyone I knew there as always. A fatal place.

   I am v. glad to hear that Nanny is out of hospital. She does sound weak  though. I hope to heaven that she will be able to come back. I am v. pleased that you were able to take her up by car. If would have been awful for her by train. Yes Mummy, I will send Ma. Jay something. I am glad you like Turkish Delight, because with anything else, the main difficulty again is tins! 0f course it was yesterday you were having Lord Harrowby. I hope it was a success. I remember Lady Harrowby's feather boa! Nice old female.                                                                   

     Oh before I forget, do you think it would be possible to send me my squash racket, and balls, if they are gettable. Let me know if this is too hopeless, and I might be able to get one through the NAAFI. They are £8 outside, and I would like to play again. Both Mimi and Lesley have been bullying me. It would be very easy if I teach. (hurray I have just killed a bug on the table!) all over your letter Mummy, and before it bit me! Balls you cannot buy.                                                     

     l am glad to hear that you are going away for a week, where? I suppose  Beata is too young to bathe, not that it would ever be warm enough in Lytham. Children of less than 5 out here dive wonderfully off the top board. How sweet of the British Legion, I will type an airgraph.                ^

     It is nice to know about the milk. As a matter of fact, Philip, the third Secretary at the Embassy, who shares the flat with Lesley and Pat went home for 6 weeks, for the first time since prewar days. He said that the food was wonderful, so well cooked. He had a kipper and one fresh herring! Of course he said England was so cheap it just wasn't true. It is so funny out here, everyone yearns for some English dish, Donald for haddock and fish, Lesley for salad, I do for milk, and proper meat, a joint of beef, I think there is nothing to beat English food!

    Well I suppose I had better stop now. These aren't censored any longer,  nice, not that it really made any difference to me. I often forge Donald's signature if necessary.

Good night and lots of love to you.    


121                          510 Coy ATS

 

4:IX:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        I am so annoyed that your two letters came just too late. I dashed off down the town and sent you a most expensive cable, and if I'd waited, I would have been able to send it direct to Devon. But I couldn't! Well, in a fortnight, at the outside, I shall be a free woman! My discharge came through while we were on leave, and all that remains is for the headmaster to name the date. I nearly died with excitement when I heard this a.m. I thought I was due to go on the MEOSB again this am., and was just busy changing into some issue garments in my  store, (where I work, as I had left all my clean issue stuff there when I went on leave,) about 8-0, when Jean Buckingham stuck her head round the door and said had I heard.... Then I rung up Donald most illegally on service lines, and then when work was finished I rushed down and cabled you. By 9-0 I was quite dead with exhaustion and excitement. Donald is terribly pleased. AND if the war ends this winter which I feel convinced it will, I think I shall be home just as quickly, or v. nearly, and in such a much pleasanter way. I couldn't bear the thought of coming home in the ATS again. Everyone has been quite cross with me for wandering around dazedly with an enormous grin. Please send all mail c/o Donald, as civilian post is most unreliable, and doesn't offer the facilities, and takes twice as long as service stuff. We haven't worked a system of getting it from Ish to Helio by service routes, but we will.

      I can see this is going to be a very rambling letter. Well Daddy, I am afraid that your cable did come too late. I got it the night before, but it would have been hopeless as I explained to Ma, owing to the heat, and I also think that the hotels are shut for the summer. But more of this later. We spent one night inn Cairo with Stan, though in the end we were invited to a small party in Alan's mess. His group have now taken over the building where I worked for the first 9 months I was here in Helio! As I told you my unit packed up. Sunday we went down to Ismailia, and stayed one night, and, bathed and went to the inevitable Sunday night red cross ball at the French Club, though actually it was at the French Club beach where we always bathe.  Sorry I had a bit of trouble with the ribbon then. Then next morning we went to Port Said. Oh I forgot to tell you, to illustrate the heat, the temperature of the Canal where we were bathing was 89 F.! See! Hence the urge to go to a cooler place in the summer. We didn't stay at the Eastern Exchange in the end, but at a much nicer large hotel on the front called the Casino, due to a muddle over rooms. They own both. We had a lovely room overlooking the harbour and a garden with a balcony. It was so cool, perfectly delightful. I should think it was 10 degrees leas than here and Ish. Lovely at night. I am afraid that we did nothing for 6 lovely days, Absolutely nothing. Oh was heavenly, and a complete rest, I do think I needed one, and I'm sure Donald did. He is getting fatter again I am pleased to say, you just wouldn't have recognised him in the winter. My feet have been very bad lately, I think it is only the heat, but they have been so sore and aching every day that some nights I haven't been able to sleep, and they are miles better now. I have to do so much dashing up and downstairs here, and walking around. The service was wonderful. Arabs actually come if you pressed the bell. We manager to get lots of iced water in our room, a thing I can't do without here. Breakfast in our room every day, and we managed to get out in time for a cup of coffee and the paper! We bathed most afternoons either in front of the hotel or went across on the ferry to Port Fuad, and then to the French Club beach. Again this is called the Jardin des Enfants, and is run by the Suez Canal Company for their employees. The whole of Ismailia is run for them, the French Club etc, and lots of very nice houses. They treat their employees incredibly well, we net one of their pilots, a new one, he only pilots the ships down the roads into the canal, and gets £130 a month plus lots of extras, cheap house etc, and family allowances, fantastic.

      Donald, went on board a destroyer once, which he loved. We met lots of people we knew, and there was a very nice officers club there, small with excellent food. And of course the fish... It was divine, we ruled out meat for the week. Had mullet, sole, fried shrimps, curried shrimps, oh it was lovely. The fish in Cairo is horrid. Quite good in Ismailia. As you say there was nothing to do in Port Said, but it was so nice and quiet, no trams. I think we were lucky, of course the Eastern Exchange is in the main street. I was terribly disappointed with Simon Artz. It was quite empty, it had obviously been a good shop, and now had nothing to sell. Most pathetic. P.S. had all sorts of things we couldn't get in Cairo, I managed to get Donald a very nice pair of polarised glasses  which he has wanted for ages for £2.50 very reasonable. I didn't spend your £5, and am going to do so this week for him. We couldn't find anything in P.S. I shall make a trip to the Musky. He wants something for our future house. I think he is writing to you this week. I bought an excellent book there called the Arm and the Darkness. Daddy I should love the Mediterranean. Alan had borrowed it from someone ages ago, and I wanted to read it.

    I am afraid that as usual I did not write while we were on leave. I am v. sorry. As I say we did absolutely nothing and it was lovely. I do hope that you got the cable and letter for your birthday. I am afraid that yours and Beata's parcels will be late as always. I sent them about 5 weeks ago. I told you before I went that I had got Philippa some glasses from you, and a Mrs Beaton from us. I am going to her wedding on Sat. afternoon of course. I may even be discharged...   Daddy, thank you v. much for all the trouble about the squash racket. I haven't got any room left, but I shall :be writing again to-morrow or Wed to tell you all I can't now.

    I do hope that Beata's birthday party, and Angela's christening were a success, I forgot she hadn't been christened. Oh dear I do feel nostalgic and left out of everything. It is awful. We got frightfully sentimental and nostalgic seeing bulging troop ships. One of Donald's friends was v. embarrassed to find two fat tears roll down his face! Now for the bombshell, we have decided to go to Khartoum for Xmas! rail and boat one way, and air the other, therefore seeing Luxor and Assuan the next time.   

Lot's and lots of love, I shall probably tell you everything I have missed  out tomorrow.


 

122  c/o Donald, 26 AACU, RAF MEF

5.IX.44

 

Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

This is really a continuation of the letter I wrote to you last night when I didn't have room to say nearly all I wanted. At the moment it is 2.30 and I am consequently anything but clear headed. Its so hot after P.S. When I finish work at 2.0 I'm going to dump Phillippa's presents at their flat and then go and have tea with Lesley. I do hope that you had a happy birthday on Friday Mummy, we thought of you, and that one of the things arrived in time. I saw a cable from P.S. on Tuesday a.m. no Monday afternoon. I'm sorry your cable didn't get to us at the Eastern Exchanges but it will no doubt follow Donald. It was fun spending his birthday together. Next year I hope to heaven we shall all be at home. The news is simply wonderful. I am quite convinced the war will be over - in Europe - this winter. The big scare out here is of course is that the troops will go straight to India. But I think  it v. unlikely Donald will. Of course I get all my news from the papers and the headlines are wonderful in Germany yesterday etc. I quite all about the H.G. (Home Guard) Daddy. I don't know whatever will happen. I always watch all the allusions to it most carefully in my Weekly Times, which I enjoy so much. Had 2 yesterday. Have read them and done 1/2 the X words! Also I like the Weekly Express and Star. At the moment my overwhelming problem is how to steal enough of these to last me until I come home at the rate of at least 4 or 5 a week (2 for you and 1 for B.!) We get 6 a month issued! But don't ask how I get them, I'll tell you when I get home! With this in mind I have been collecting systematically for a couple of months. Donald can't get many. How lovely it must be in Devon now. We always used to be away now didn't we? I should adore a holiday there. I do hope that you have managed to take the car. The trains must be dreadful. Your last journey was so awful Daddy. The photo of you arrived yesterday Daddy. Its v good I have got it stuck in front of me now. I am delighted to hear of the family photograph. Shall be thrilled to get it, and now I shall have a room where I can display everything. What a pity about the polyphotos. I am sorry. Incidentally I am dispatching an airgraph for to the B.L. for the 7/6 by the same mail. Sweet. I do hope Angela and Beata's birthday party were a success on Thursday. All the birthdays together, yours Mummy, Donald and Beata's. How sweet all the children must have been. I do hate not seeing them grow up. What an awful pity Joan White's gone. Is Peter W. in France too? Everyone seems to be. I hope to God that V1 will be finished now. I hate the sound of the next 2 as I'm afraid they might come up to the Midlands. I must write to Mr & Mrs M tomorrow. Poor things. She's so nervous too. Oh dear, now I've got to end without telling you a) on plans for Xmas, I get a fortnight holiday b) my clothes - sorry!! That I want sending. Daddy don't bother about squash balls. I'll try the games NAAFI at Abassie, they were reputed to have rackets once and might have balls. In my next letter I shall tell you the date I am being discharged. Must ring Donald tonight. Do you notice letter cards are all uncensored now? I often ??? of you in P.S! Suppose Daddy you must remember all the places now in the news. I wondered if you would.

 

 


 

123  c/o Donald, 26 AACU, RAF MEF

 

7.IX.44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

    Well I heard yesterday that I am being discharged tomorrow. I'm quite overwhelmed with joy and excitement. I'm not going to rhapsodise all over this letter as I won't get any information into it. Mummy darling thank you very much for your letter which I had this morning written on your birthday. I'm v glad that you are pleased that we shall be home after the war. I am, very. But please don't think you don't mean a lot to me. I assure you, you do, perhaps more now than before. I think and talk of you and home constantly. Glad you had a nice and happy birthday. Donald saw Fanny by Gaslight at the camp cinema and adored it. I would love to. How nice having a new frock. I sent you some blue stuff too so you'll do alright for the winter! I am so longing for the photo of you all. Beat's (you are so naughty to call her that, most of all Bunch when she's grumbled about being called Bunch all her life!) smock sounds delicious. I must get Angela a christening present. I am going into the Market? on Saturday am to have my pearls re-strung. I have to watch every pearl of course and will get Donald his present too. Tomorrow I have a medical, get paid, hand in my uniform - joy! - I walk out a free woman. I get a fortnight leave and pay from the army and am paid by the school as from Monday. I am staying with Lesley till Tuesday. Having long interview on Monday with the head. Getting books, syllabuses etc. Then I am going to stay in Ismailia for a fortnight with Donald, to work in the daytime. It will all come??, I'm sure I've masses to learn. Donald's delighted with this idea. Then on Sept 26 I shall come back here, see how things are going, the school is open from then to live in. The children come at the beginning of October sometime. The 2nd or 3rd. Yesterday I bought a large tin case for 250 P.T. and I have a big suitcase and a zip bag, and so I hope that I shall manage. Please Mummy could you send me, my Scotch frock, my best grey suit - registered!! - my blue and white striped blouse, white evening frock, my old blue and white striped suit twinset blue jerseys and, if you can find them, my maroon and blue stockings. The school is rather smart! I shall take care of my grey suit don't worry! Am very sorry to bother you with all the above, especially with Nanny being away. I should like them by the middle of November. Send them to Donald, its so much safer, and in different parcels - one or two.

   I have just talked to Phillippa on the phone. She is very pleased with her presents and will write to you. I put your address on the note I put with the glasses. They're very pretty. I shall be going to her wedding of course. I am having dinner with Marion at night. It will be nice staying with Lesley. I shall be able to re-arrange myself. I have got all my books packed in a crate which is something. As soon as I get my NAAFI families card I shall send you some dried fruit and sugar and anything else I can. This should be quite soon. Oh thank you very much I had a parcel of magazines yesterday. Woman's Journal and the like, Lovely. All I've got for now. I'll borrow Donald's typewriter now.

 

Would you let Bunch know, as I have just dashed off letters to Nanny and Mr & Mrs M and feel exhausted!


124

 

15.IX.'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      Well, I am now a free woman. I have no uniform, no pay book no anything! I was discharged one week ago as I told you. I am v. happy about it all. Am now involving getting myself a white identity card and passport and NAAFI permit. As a matter-of-fact I'm still virtually a member of the forces as the wife for one, and have an officer's pass and most of the privileges. I am at the moment sitting in the YWCA garden having elevenses. Donald is working. There's a Battle of Britain parade on. I wanted to type this for you, but his is so full of sand I can't use it. But he's going to clean it. Everything at that station is feet deep in sand. Dreadful. I had a very nice weekend with Lesley, organising myself and my clothes, then on Monday I had a two hour session with the head master - Mr Whiting, and the senior mistress. They are so nice. Almost the first thing he did was to push me off to collect my pay to the end of September - 2691919 pts i.e. £27 and then we decided what I'm to teach. Geography to VI (school cert and matric), the V, and IVb, history to IVa and III and mathematics to IVa and III forms. In all 24 periods of about 40 minutes I imagine. The geography of course is child's play from the actual knowledge point of view, also the mathematics as they are only junior forms. The history I am slightly worried about. Over the period of the Year I am to run through ? - 1485 English history with as much European thrown in as possible. I have the book which is to be the set book for the year with me, and it's very, very broad outline of History and I think I shall be able to cope if I can find some books to read around subject to make it more interesting. I also have some geography books with me, and some old school cert and matric papers. I'm going to enjoy it. So much is expected of me, and it's such a nice change. Also I find both of them so sensible. They quite understood that I might not know that period, but I could learn it all up. Then I am house-mistress of Gloucester House, about 30 girls. On Tuesday am I came down to Ismailia for a fortnight or so. The school doesn't open until 4th October or 5th but after 26 I can live in there and I will probably go back and discover what's what. I have brought some books down here and I'm working on them, and also making a couple of cotton frocks and trying to catch up on my correspondence. So I am pretty busy and very happy. Donald goes off at 6.30 and returns some time in the afternoon. Tuesday 5.0, yesterday 2.30, they finish work at two, and start about 6, officer somewhere between 6 and 7. We went down and bathed yesterday at the Jardin des Enfants and met some of my future pupils! Poor kids I was so sorry for them, they were frightened out their lives. They play around in the water with 26 AACU and are very sweet, aged 14 to 16. Suez Canal Company children, English and French or Dutch. I haven't had any mail from you written after 1st September but hope to get some any day. Our  mail is a bit disorganised. Daddy thank you for Lord D's letter, very charming I thought. Also Mrs Trench's! I have written an airgraph in thanks for the 7/6 before I got it! It arrived this week, I cashed it yesterday, also a Times. I have also written to Mrs Reade about Philippa's wedding which I went to I had to send it to Mrs Reed C/O. Conservative Club because I can't remember the name of the house and Philippa is away. How was your holiday? Will write again in a day or two.

    Lots of love from our your smug daughter

    Ring up Mrs Wilcock as her daughter and her nephew is on the way home. He was with Donald's and his mother - Mrs Durrell ??????


125

 

18:IX:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

    It is Bairam today, the end of the feast of Ramadan, when all Muslims fast during the day for one month. Their only eat and drink at night, and then for four days, during Bairam they eat and drink all time. Hence Egypt is in  even worse chaos than at the moment.

    I'm having a very happy time down here, I have got another 10 days or so. Term begins on 3rd October, though I shall go back a few days beforehand. We had a lovely day yesterday. In the morning we went round to have coffee with a charming Dutch family with three youngish children. Donald and his various friends play with the children on the beach.. The big game is the order of the "hot foot"! This means that the moment your head emerges above water someone stands on it again, therefor everyone spends about half the time below the water. Of course in the canal it is nice and easy to stand on people's heads as the water is 30 ft deep. This family have one son who used to be at home in the Dutch army and so they were thrilled to hear all I could tell them. Van Deirindock by name. There isn't a hope of your knowing the boy I suppose?[41] Yesterday afternoon we had a sailing boat with the squadron leader Donald shares tent with, and with whom he is very friendly and two of the children. There was a good wind and we had a lovely afternoon tearing up and down Lake Timsah, and chasing Liberty ships going through the canal. The children's father was piloting one of them, and bathing of course. We staggered off to bed at 9.0, quite worn out.

    I put it a very inexplicable note on the bottom of your last letter. But one Harry Durell is on the boat home, and should arrive at any time. His mother is Mrs Douglas Wilcock's sister, and Mrs Durrell is living at the Island too. Harry has been stationed with Donald for a the year I should think, and I have seen him lots. Do ring up Mrs Wilcock and see him. I couldn't give him any messages as we didn't know he was going. He's very like Martin and the other boys in an odd way, and very musical. Do ring him up, he will be on leave about when you get this I imagine, and probably at the Island. He left here the day we left Port Said.

    Daddy, I feel very sorry for your sake that the Home Guard is breaking up. I do feel that they ought to give you some decoration, you have worked so hard. I do hope that you won't be too bored. I think, from the papers out here, that government seems to cutting down orders enormously. I'm sure that the war will be over soon. I do hope to heaven that Bunch has heard from Peter. But I know that she would hear immediately something happened to him.

     Don't worry re. Donald and me getting home, my contract is till June, and then I can come home. Donald's tour of duty lasts over that, but if he should get sent home, there is always one way out! Which Donald has always been very anti-out here, owing to unhealthy conditions out here, and possibility of his getting posted somewhere fancy and leave me stuck with an infant. I do not at all wish though to upset the school arrangements for the year, but they would let me come home if necessary, very muddled!

     I afraid it will take a bit of time to get everyone home from here. The big horror of course is being posted to the Far East. I think it will be terribly unfair if people like Donald after several years out here, mostly in pretty lousy conditions get shot off to India. Mention the word India and there's a horrified silence. Donald said he that he was going to write you this morning. I forgot to tell you that I had a v. nice am in the Musky on Saturday before I came down here, and watched them re-stringing my pearls, and chose a lovely silver box for Donald from you, and got Angela a very nice beaker. Am trying to get a plain silver spoon and fork to go with it, but they are very difficult find, as there are all so ornate, and I am afraid I shall have to get one made in Cairo.

     Am glad that you enjoyed Devon. What a journey. I had your letter of 9th on Sat Daddy. The Italians and girls, that is the A.T.S., and I think the main reason why I hated the A.T.S. so much. It made me so ashamed all  the time. Still, in 10 days, I have forgotten much of the A.T.S., I will in the end only remember the best, and the odd half dozen people I've become very fond of. Marion Jean, Lindsay, Rufus etc.

     Well I must get up now. I had breakfast at 8-0 in my room, but am still in my cotton housecoat, as it keeps the flies off my legs. Whenever I'm going to do anything, type, write, put lipstick on or anything a fly lands on me, and throws me out of gear! Yes definitely I will go and have a shower, and retire to the WY garden with my history books! Tomorrow I will have to go and get my hair washed. It is stiff with salt, as I could not have a shower after I bathed as we were in the middle of the lake. I bathed without a cap, as they are so useless, and the salinity is very high. Do hope that I shall get some mail today, and here that B has heard from Peter. With lots of love


23'IX:'44

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     Thank you for the Punches and Picture Post's which I had yesterday. We took a them down to the beach and read them. Did you read the Lieutenant Simpson articles, I adore them, they are so typical of the M.E. There was one on the O.R.'s dance in this lot, which was absolutely true, the man who writes them must be stationed about 30 miles from here just across the canal, I know the camp, beyond Kantara. Daddy, AACU  merely means Anti-Aircraft Corporation Unit, and they fly drones and do the training for the Army and Navy guns. Hence the peculiar and scattered nature of the unit. Very handy.

     Glad to get both your letters when you got back from London and your holiday. They took six days, and I got them in the middle of the week. How funny meeting the Dartmouth's at Browns. I am glad to hear that Barber says that your skin is better on the whole Mummy, but can't he do anything for your hands, they seem to be awful bad? It is dreadful for you. One of the girls in the flat I was in Kasr el Nil barracks suffered from the same thing, and it affected her nails very badly. She had to go to a hospital between Cairo and Ismailia once a fortnight for some ray treatment, but she said in general, she had been much better out here.

    I think on the whole it we would be best to continue to send letters to Donald, and definitely always parcels. It is quite reliable, all the wives I know about here have there letters sent their husbands. Donald can just stick them into an envelope and forward them to me in Helio. We have fixed a system. Civilian mail is very unreliable. However I will enquire about it when I get to the school and settled in. My mail means so much to me the I can't bear the thought of it wandering round the corrupt hands of this country. The theft and pilfering is fabulous.

    I'm having a very happy time down here. Work at 26 AACU is supposed to stop about 2-0, and several times Donald has managed to get finished by then, and we have been down and bathed. Today is Sat, so I hope he will. It is getting quite chilly. We went down yesterday, and the water was cold. Far hotter than it ever is at home I have no doubt though. I love bathing here. It is so much nicer than pools. I always feel that water is so much more healthy too. It is wildly salty. Donald's eyes always are always quite scarlet when he comes out!

    I have made a cotton frock to this week. I think it will be all right, though I don't like it as much as the one which I made just before we went on leave. Still I am v. pleased with myself. I have not made one before. Now it is getting cooler it is so much easier with those, they don't get so messy so quickly. In the heat, you have to wear 2 a day. Now one lasts for a day to a day and a half. Frightful isn't it compared with home. I took the other length of cotton I brought with me to a dressmaker here, recommended me by an English girl the words for the Navy. The dress maker was Greek, and couldn't speak one word of anything else, even Arabic! It was very funny. However we fixed it and the day for a fitting and to be finished without being able to understand one word the other said! It is amazing not to be so to speak one word of Arabic even, most people do, even I can understand a little, and get around.

    I do hope that the domestic arrangements are a bit better now. What about Nanny? I do hope that she's getting better. I wrote to her just before I came down here.

    Oh dear I must get myself up. It is 8-45. I have breakfast in my room about 7-45, and then sometimes I get up right away, and sometimes I write letters or something first. I have got to go to the NAAFI this morning and see if I can get some white bread, the local stuff here is inedible, it looks, smells and tastes like sawdust, stale. It is much better in Cairo. I'd rather have chapatis, the native that stuff than this phoney European stuff. I don't mind chapatis. We have heard tell that there is in his beer in the officers NAAFI. I have now an identity card and can shop at the NAAFI.

    Will write again at the beginning of the week. I shall be going back to Cairo sometime next week. A C46, the new Super DC 3, an enormous American transport has come down at 26AACU, and is having engine change. I hope to go back to Cairo in it, and will probably go when it is ready. The Americans are always very obliging. We are hoping to get them to fly us to Khartoum, as the fares are prohibitive by air. If I were an A.T.S. still it would be too easy, as Alan Cooper is one of the big noises of the group which do that trip, but officially I am no longer allowed to fly with the RAF, but the Americans don't seem to fuss. We are going to put in a little spadework. Well I must go and have a shower, quite cold now, though I had them last winter into December, since there was no hot water. I do hope there will be at the school.

   Lots and lots of love

 

    The school is the nearest approximation to a public school that you get a outside England and is the best in Cairo there is one other in Alex.


127

27:IX:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

    Haven't had any news of you since I wrote on Saturday. I don't think that the mail is very good these days, still I have no doubt I shall hear tonight, I always do when I write it. I do hope that Mrs Jones has come back now, and that the domestic situation isn't so bad.

     I am still down in Ismailia, but am going back to Cairo tomorrow morning. I must go down and ring up the Head master soon. It has been a perfectly lovely fortnight. I have always been very happy in Ism. It is the first time for over two years that I have been able to do absolute nothing for a fortnight! I have done a lot really, but it's the first time I haven't felt overwhelmed by the shortness of time and the amount of things to be done. I have done all sorts of things like writing to people like Rosemary Tabrum! I have also made a frock which is quite successful, and nearly finished a pair of pants in some new parachute silk, which "I came by". And I have done quite a bit of work and contemplated how I intend take lessons, and the line I must stick to.

    Donald has been working hard this week, and hasn't come back till 7.0 or so. It's a very long day, he goes before 7.30 morning. This doesn't sound long compared with home, but it is so hot in the middle of the day still to work all that time. We did quite a lot if bathing over the weekend, and had a pleasant time. Had dinner at French Club on Saturday night and danced. They have a very good dance band there, which Harry Durrell started, Mrs Wilcock's nephew, in the Sudan, and their unit is now stationed at the same aerodrome as Donald's. I do hope that you will see him. Also over the weekend we ran into a charming Squadron Leader who has only been out here for three months or something fantastic, whose father-in-law is medical adviser to the GWR! Wonderful what you can discover about people in about five minutes! I suppose he and Waddy[42] must know each other by name anyway. (Heavens, while I've been sitting writing this to you, the back of my leg has been chewed. This is the first time I've ever been bitten in his hotel. Can't finding any animals!)

    I am going to write to Gladys when I have finished this. You said you hoped I would write to Mrs Reade, well I did, the moment I got back from the wedding. I told you, and sent it to the Conservative Club to Mr Reade, as I couldn't think of the name of their house, or however else to send it. I do hope they got it. Will have to pack again soon. Oh dear I am so tired of packing. I haven't seen my room at the school yet, but I believe there are quite nice. I don't live with the children, or feed with them. Thank goodness. Then I must go and collect my cotton frock from the Greek woman who doesn't speak a word of anything but Greek. We got on very well at the fitting and the frock looks nice!

     Sorry I seem to have run out of news. I don't know why. Oh I went and bathed yesterday with a friend of Donald's, and we swam the canal, about 250 yards across at that point. I felt after that I had had my exercise for the day. It is amazingly cold in the middle if you stick your feet right down and let yourself sink.

How is Nanny?

 

    Lots and lots of love

 

    Jubilation in the ME about the rise in pay! Donald gets another 21/- a week. We have been planning how to spend leave when we get home. We have decided to divide it into four parts, I'll come straight home, and Donald to Byfleet, and then Donald will come home, then we will both go to Byfleet and have a weekend in London, and see all our various friends. Won't it be heavenly? I don't know how long we will get yet.

 

Have just written to Mrs Jones and bought her a three pound box of Turkish Delight will parcel it up and give it to Donald to post.


Mrs D.S. Maitland,

English School, Cairo,

Sharia Tayaran,

Heliopolis.

 

1:X:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     I know that you must be dying to know how I am getting on. I haven't had any mail from you, as all our post arrangement suddenly fell through as both Stan and Alan had been posted. I know Donald has a letter card from you for me. I will deal with post first. Today one of the staff had a letter card in six days. So I think if you would send it alternate ones here and to Donald, and see what happens, only do send all sea mail to 26 AACU. It is so much safer, and quicker. The letter cards are new out here, and have only been going a month. They are all the ones you write now. I shall have to continue to send these through any one in uniform as they cannot be sent civilian mail, and the airgraph is are the only alternative, and I detest them.

     Now.. I came up here on Thursday morning as I told you I was going to, but by car instead of air, which was really easier as I had cartloads of luggage. Staff car. Got here for lunch, and was taken straight up my room by the headmaster's wife. I just sat exhausted on my bed for half-an-hour it is all so magnificent. The 6 mistresses who live in live at the top of this new building, in a flat. Four floors up. Magnificent view. My room is lovely. French window onto a balcony, a very pretty blue green painted furniture, wardrobe rather like mine, a desk and drawers, chest of drawers, kidney-shaped dressing-table, and a little bedside thing, armchair and ordinary and H. and C. Chintz, I'm quite overwhelmed. Polished floor. Opposite my room there is our sitting room, and nice little room, well-furnished, and a telephone, joy. Masses of H. thank goodness. Most uncommon the Middle East, the club is the only other place I know with hot water. The food is very good too, English cooking, which is such a relief. I feel about 10 years too young quite. All the staff are extremely nice to me. I feel absolutely lost a moment, we had a full staff meeting on Saturday morning, with the boys' side too. I just sat with my mouth open. I expect that I shall soon fall into it all right. But at the moment I lose myself continually even in the school! Everyone is very kind and considerate though. It seems so odd being at the top instead at the bottom for once. Many of the staff have been here for 8 years or so, so no wonder I feel a bit odd. Then of course apart from lessons, there is my house, Gloucester. I can only suppose that order will rise out of chaos in my mind. I can generally cope when I try. I feel it will be easier when the children are back on Tuesday, amid day girls on Wednesday. It is also funny, I do wish that there was someone here to appreciate the humour of it, I am dying to see Donald to tell him all about it. We don't work on Saturdays and Sundays, I think I shall need this to learn up all things I don't know. And I have to produce a play with my house by the middle of November! There are continual competitions between houses, four.

     I think that is about enough for one letter. Isn't is a pity about Alan and Stan going. Stan is off to Italy when he comes out of hospital, he is only got bad prickly heat. Alan was on the boat at 2 days notice, and has gone, he is a year or so under time to. I am so sorry I didn't know he was going or he could have contacted you when he gets up to Birmingham. Lots of other people have gone too. In the month I have been away from Helio everything seems to have changed.

     Donald is frightfully pleased that I'm no longer in the A.T.S.. I had a letter from him this morning. We did have a happy fortnight down in Ismailia. I long quite incredibly for a nice quiet domestic life. My life is one long rush and effort to get things done, well I think I shall be quite happy here, and enjoy the work when I get started.

      Aren't the new Palestine outrages a mess? Honestly you know I quite sympathise with the Germans if not their methods. They are the most objectionable race en masse. The anti-Semitic feeling out here is bad, and I feel, unavoidable. I, of course have lived with a 50 per cent Palestinian company. It is very bad out here, you see all the scum of the race and none of the best. At home, I would never have thought of a person as a Jew, which I do out here. Probably it will subside again at home.

     Well I must go and change for dinner, which we have at 8.30. I wonder how I shall ever get used to having it at 7.30 again. Sometime in the summer, we don't feed till 10-0!

     I think his job will be jolly good for me after the A.T.S..

     Longing for some mail. Lots and lots of love.


129

 

5.X.44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

       I am on duty at the moment, so this may be very interrupted! I have a complete day's duty every Thursday and one weekend in three on duty. This adds £4 to my monthly salary, it is now £31 a month! In arrears though which is a bit shattering. Well, I am really enjoying this. I have done one and a half days teaching, the children are all arrived on Wednesday morning. Borders came lunch time - 6.0 Tuesday. I unpacked all day like a mad thing and made lists of all the children's clothes. Wednesday am, chaos. Lots of new people and new staff. All Wednesday I gave out books, textbooks and exercise books and made list in my own form, the third form. I must say they all behaved very well. Their ages are anything from 11 to 14 1/2. Then yesterday I started teaching!!! They are all very well behaved children which helps. But their names... Oh their names. I'm so appallingly bad at names anyway and there are 225 girls, things like FAWZIA MAREI!! Teaching in some ways isn't as difficult as I thought. I only teach geography to the VI and V forms, school cert. and matric. that is, and maths, English and history to some of the lower forms in the senior school. Oddly enough I find geography the most difficult to teach. I know so much, and they know so little, and I spent so many years doing it that I can't remember how much I knew or understood at 15 or 16. I am at the moment trying to teach both forms English weather. This is quite shattering. Most of them have never been to England, don't know what rain is like or changeable weather. I had my first lesson today in maths for IVa children of 14 and 15 or so. I gave them a sharp test in tables. This has shaken them to the foundations! I shall send you a timetable and a little syllabus as soon as I have time to do it, by ordinary mail. But I'm rush off my feet just now. I hardly know where to turn, but I am sure that in a week or two I shall be organised. This evening I took supper, and then took prayers in chapel! Now I'm putting the children to bed, wild cries are echoing down the passages. I shall have to hustle down in a moment. I don't feel I am strict enough. Still I really do feel that this is a job worthwhile. Don't you think so? So much more than wasting my time in the A.T.S.. You have to forgive me not telling you very much, my head is like cotton wool. I have been on duty since 9 with one hour for lunch and two at teatime, I finish at 9. I am dying for news of you. We have at least got one postal system organise so you needn't  worry about mail. In future I shall not write English school at the top of this, as its military post. But you write letter cards to the school. I am seeing Donald on Saturday. I am absolutely dying to, I've got so much to tell him, as I am a boarding house mistress and work one weekend in three, there are only two other mistresses in this, everyone has been very sweet to me and all hope I shan't be too rushed and can they help etc.

       Oh dear, I am longing for mail. How are you and what are you doing. How's Peter, how's Nanny. I haven't had any letter cards for ages - not your fault. But its all organised now. I had a wire and long phone call last night with Donald. Am quite happy and very comfortable. All love.


130

 

8:X:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     Was delighted to get all your mail of the last fortnight when I went down to see Donald this weekend. Masses of it. Two letters from each of you. Also two from Bunch, she said that she had been ill all the time she had been in Lytham. I am so sorry. Fancy getting jaundice, is one the most depressing diseases ever, I have seen so many people with it out here, you get sent home after three tries. Poor child. She told me about Peter's division taking Havre, he was out of the line resting, when she wrote. I'm appalled to hear about Brian Wilcock, just having a baby too, it is hard, though he may be a P.W. Poor Helen and Mrs Wilcock. I am sorry to hear about Colin Bibby, I must write to Mrs Bibby she was devoted to him, more than Alan, I think. Funny little Colin.

     School is still progressing favourably. It is terribly hard work, though I am thoroughly appreciating working hard, I teach 5 or six lessons a day, timetable will be following eventually. I have just been learning up tomorrow's lessons violently. Geography for the VI, maths for the IVa, and history for IVb, and English and arithmetic for a third form! Oh and history for the third form. I also corrected last lessons algebra and wrote scathing remarks all over, for IVa. Yes Daddy, it is a completely mixed school, though I don't teach the boys. They take school cert, and hirers out here. All the pupils have meals together in the big hall, at different tables for boys and girls. There are about 100 boy boarders and 40 girls, the school is in all about 550 about 250 girls, and 300 boys, about 200 of which are junior school. 200 of the 550 I mean. I can't tell you what it is in comparison to public schools, or high or anything else. It is just the the English school, for Egypt, barring another of the same status in Alex. It is for all English children out here, and children of mixed marriages, and only 20 per cent foreign. It is very difficult to get in, unless you're English, and there are at least 60 children waiting now. I think that compared with England, the standard of education is low, but the trouble is that they have no general knowledge. Most peculiar. There are appalling gaps in their education, but I find them nice, well-mannered children, better than most schools at home! They behaved very well with me I think. We never did at Lawnside with new staff. It also caters a lot for the poor English population of Cairo, and they are given bursaries. The school is run primarily to give an English education to all English children Cairo. It is a course financed by grants from the British Council and public funds raised by the English committee, and sponsored by the ambassador, who attends functions.

     We heard this evening that the pro-British Prime Minister, Nahas Pasha has been kicked out by the King. Killearn[43] is in N. Africa. Watch out for riots in Egypt, there will be.

     I had a very brief stay in Ismailia, arrived down there at 5-0, yesterday, and left at 2-0 today, I didn't want the worn-out coming back on the late train with a heavy day's teaching tomorrow. Donald's had a frightful fortnight, there was the AOC's inspection yesterday.

     There has been absolute chaos and in the camp for the last month. Everywhere and everything had to be re-done, and repainted. They filled 85,000 sandbags alone redoing the tents, Donald had to make and lay a dance floor, which very successful. They are worn out. Donald seems to have been working like a black, all the aeroplanes, and MT was repainted. You know I told you when I was there at the end he was working from 8-0 till 7-0. The party was very good. They have just opened a new house right on the lake for married people and  it is delightful. We had a very nice room. I think that he will be coming up here next weekend. It will be lovely. He hasn't been up to Cairo for months. Then the weekend after I am on duty the whole two days.

     Daddy, I am delighted that your JP's thing has come through at last, you must be glad. How often do you sit? You must be so lost without the HG.

     Glad that you liked the stuff Mummy. What a time it took to come. I got no clothing allowance from the A.T.S.. I was furious. But apparently I couldn't get one as I was discharged under some fancy authority. Still it was only £3.10 shillings, and that buys nothing Egypt. Flannel is about £3 a yard, and Tweed at least for £3 and £5! It was last year anyway.

    I will answer letters more fully in my next. So glad to have them,

         lots of love


131

 

17.X.' 44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     I'm terribly sorry I have not written to you for a week, I am just snowed under with work and don't know where to turn. I am enjoying it all, but find it very tiring. I corrected books for nearly three hours after school yesterday, for two hours today, and have still two forms to do! Then there is this play. I told you that each house produces a play at the end of this term, to be judged, and go towards the house shield. So I have to produce one. We have just started it. But I shall tell you about it when it gets going. I have now a timetable, and school magazine which am forwarding by this post.

     Donald came up the weekend. This was heavenly. He arrived at 3.30 on Friday, just as I had finished school, and stayed till Sunday night. I don't know if I told all this, but his old C.O. was posted, and though he wasn't a very nice man, he was a v. good C.O.. They have now had another they have had another now for about three months, who was caused almost a mass application for postings. He cares for nothing but paperwork, not flying, and does nothing himself, except take his girlfriend sailing all week. So, Donald is very unofficially trying to fix a posting. He went to see Stan in hospital on Friday afternoon, also Donald's ex C.O., and they discussed the matter. He gave Donald his undivided support. I told you didn't I he applied for Donald at his new unit and was refused as the unit was off. He also has saw a few other bodies. But if anything will come of it heaven alone knows. We had a heavenly weekend. We had lunch on Sunday with a Pug and Margie. Also June. It was so nice to see them again. June is quite unrecognisable, and very pretty. Margie of course hasn't changed at all. She said that she would ring you up, sorry write to you. I was just thinking that after dinner I would ring Philippa! We also went to see BOAC about Khartoum, £38 each single, so I am afraid that our only hope is to get a lift from the Americans. Next time Donald comes up, we are going to cultivate them! I'm crazy to go Khartoum I don't know why, and do the trip back by boat and train, by Luxor and Aswan. We shall probably manage it in the end. Must go and have a yellow fever jab at GHQ, you can't get into the Sudan without one, Donald has had his. I shall be quite worn out at the end of the term. Still I'm enjoying it. I am under that bit of a panic about clothes. I didn't think it would be winter quite as soon as it might be. Still I don't really think I shall need any warm clothes for these three weeks except in the evening. I have got to do something about an evening frock pretty soon, as a house mistress I presume I have to swim around in one at the plays in five weeks' time. I'm having a black skirt and some tops. I have the brocade Donald bought me for Xmas present, and the sash he gave me some time, the latter is about 28 inches wide and 36 Long, the high-class made natives use it around their tums over their galabishs. It is very beautiful pale blue and silk brocade, without the silver thread which true brocade has. I want get Bunch one.

     Thank heaven is getting on for dinner time, it is 7.45 I'm famished. We work so hard, I can't eat enough! Every day for breakfast, I have stewed figs and sour milk, stuff like junket. I have told you about it before, then 2 eggs and about three piece of toast and marmalade, and biscuits and tea for elevenses. Lunch with the children is horrid, then an enormous tea at 3.30, and dinner at 8.30, soup, meat and veg, savoury, fruit and coffee. It is very hot and khamsin like tonight.

     Mummy, thank you v. much for sending all my clothes. About the moth holes, that is OK. I kick up awful fuss if my stoppeur keeps things a week! It would be almost worth your while to send things out here. They are marvellous. Of course out here, everything gets so eaten by various things, and the menders are so invisible, I take all my good clothes to them. I had them mend my coloured stockings which had been eaten during the winter, last week. I paid 4 shillings for about four holes and one large one in a woolly frock, and quite invisible!

     Donald was thrilled to bits when he came to pick me up at the school on Friday, at how lovely it all was, he had dinner here, and has decided he could face the ordeal as the food is so good! The mistresses have dinner, tea and breakfast by themselves. We can have visitors in moderation, for 15 PT.

     I think that the mail has been a bit delayed, I didn't get any last week, neither did Donald. Is Bunch home yet? I do hope that she has got over jaundice. Love to the babies. How is Nanny? With lots of love Romie


132                                                     26 AACU

                                                        RAF MEF

                                      22:X:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        Sunday morning, I have just returned from taking the children to church. Quite enjoyed it bar the sermon which I always detest. Was v disappointed when I got in, as I thought the mail Donald forwarded on Friday would be here. Still I had a lot in the middle of the week. One from each of you, and one from Nanny. Donald told about the big catastrophe I think. He was going to cable about it. In some way or another he mislaid the first two letters I wrote from here to you and Bunch, and didn't discover this till he tore up an envelope and found the in it. I am frightfully sorry, as it contained all vital information, to be even more maddening, about the school, and I couldn't understand why I had no letter cards from you here. I'm so sorry, because I hardly wrote at all when I first arrived as I had so much to do. It is still a frightful job to get time to write now. Donald is sticking them up and sending on. So eventually you will get all information. I was so furious when I discovered this that I could hardly speak! Because I know how you must have been looking forward to getting them, but I trust you will see by the numbering that one must have been lost or something. As a result of all this which happened on Thursday, last night I had a terrible nightmare all about it, and apparently woke up all the staff by screaming my sleep twice, I never woke up, as always, but they came into see if I was all right!

     I am so delighted to hear that Nanny will be back soon, I had a letter from her to. Also I suppose that by now Bunch is back. I do so hope she has got over jaundice, it is the most depressing complaint, mentally, so many people get it over here, so I know. Where is she going for a week's peace from the kids?

      How did your first court, what do you call it, go Daddy? I am so glad that you are now a JP and D L, it will give you something to do instead of the H.G. though you must be glad to get peace in the evenings. I didn't know you got paid at all for being a J P. I do hope that you get petrol. Am delighted to see in the paper that there is a rumour of a basic ration again, yesterday it said  Gall per HP per month. I know how much difference is would make to you Mummy.

      On Friday I ordered your Xmas cake, and will get it off next weekend. I'm not sure what the last date is, must remember to ask Jean when I see her. Yes Ma I will send Aunt Bee something. I must get everything off by next week. I'm going have a v. busy week, I have got fittings every day for my winter clothes. I am in a state about them, I have two jerseys, to woolly frocks and a skirt, and a coat! Am just hoping and praying that my things will come from home. Like a fool, I will forgot gloves, I have suede ones but nothing warm. Please Mummy, could you find something, preferably my nice ones that you gave me the Xmas before I left. I just can't afford another thing. I took the children to church today without a hat. I refuse to pay about £5 for a hat to take them to church every three weeks. I have never seen any hat shops here, but like everything else, I guess they cost the earth. Clothes rather defeat me here more than they need, but staff change for dinner every night, into silk frocks.

      I'm still enjoying life a lot. But how to squeeze everything in, is beyond me! I always have such a mass of books to correct. Still, this weekend of having to stay in all time, will give me some time. I don't have much to do, but keep them quiet, and take meals, church, and the dance last night. I sat on the platform with the master on duty and knitted, the complete chaperone! They are good children on the whole. I am preparing Donald for a big ordeal of the school dance at the end of term. I feel this is be good for me. I was thinking about it in church. For two years, I have had no opportunity do anything for myself, and now, for two days now for example, I'm in charge of the school. Also, it is the good for my brain. I am pleasurably surprised by the latter's capacity! Oh dear, they are making a row, I shall have to go and shriek. Magic words, the noise stopped. I am sitting in our v nice sitting room, in the mistress's flat, with the wireless on. It looks over the playing fields and garden, and though it is at the top of the building, fourth floor, all noise is audible. It is also, as you say Daddy, good for public-speaking. I am never nervous in lessons, or rarely, except a bit sometimes taking IV for history and geometry, as the former is ancient history, the Cretan, Babylonian Empires, of which I know absolute nothing. Also my geometry was bad, but I'm better now. Soon we shall be at the Greeks, then it will be all right. Well I must go to lunch. Lots of love,

      Never, never send anything but letter cards or airgrams to this address. I have just been talking to the Head master's wife and she has never received a single parcel civilian mail.

      Address English school Cairo SH TAYARAN, HELIOPOLIS

 


133

30:10:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    As usual I am worn out! A most exhausting day. I taught all morning, had one free period after lunch when I  washed jerseys, then one more lesson. Tea, and an hour and a 1/2 rehearsal of my house play till 5-15, then I corrected books for two hours!

    Donald came up for the weekend, and brought my two parcels of clothes, my racket, and some magazines. I was terribly relieved to get the clothes, I am afraid that I am having to have my grey suit let out. But I am having my v. good dressmaker's taylor do it. He is v. good, now I hope it gets cold, as there is a khamsin on at the moment, that is why I feel so weary. It is v hot and overpowering. We had a lovely weekend. Spent all Saturday in the Musky, tramping around, getting Xmas presents. They all packed up now, and ready to go. Hope you like yours. We tried hard to get Bunch a suffragi's belt. Do you remember, I told you Donald bought me one about 16 months ago? They are the most wonderful silk brocade, about a metre and a quarter long and 30 inches wide. I'm having my own made into an evening blouse at the moment, mine was 240 pt. They wanted seven pounds for one now! So we gave that up! Still I shall try again before I come home. They are so gorgeous. Then we had lunch with Richard and Philippa at Gezira, Donald agrees with me, I think he's v. nice, and v. clever. Also I think that Philippa is much improved by being married. We saw June Adshead there, she has got a job at the YWCA, very nice for her.

    I'm having nice long gin-and-tonic to revive me! We have an ice box up in our flat. I am v worried about the effects of Donald's cables on you. I never thought of it. All because of a silly mistake the letters getting torn up. I thought that you would be so worried still everything will have got straightened out by now, I am so longing to get your letters direct. But once again, never send anything but letter cards. Donald is frightfully busy on the posting racket. It would be wonderful if he did manage to get here. I think possibly if he does, it is a good thing that I will have had a term living in at the school, as I am even now getting much more used to it.

    I am a trifle worried about purchase tax. Still I'm putting duty-free labels on things I think are subject to it, and making up prices to be within the prescribed limit. We have said your cakes off one to the Maitlands. Oh I should love one of Ma J.'s stickies, so much better than these! I remember our wedding cake with yearning! Still I have wonderful food here, we had radishes for tea, and I am still enjoying them! They even cook chicken and making tender, no mean feat this country!

     I haven't had any mail since I wrote to you go week ago. I am terribly sorry to have been so bad about writing. I do do my best, but I have so much to do, have had to go into Cairo for something every evening, fittings mostly,. Still am much better off this week, and hope to write twice as usual

    I am enjoy it all be much though. The really feel I'm doing something,

    Good it is nearly din time. I am fiendishly hungry. We have tea at 3-30

    I am afraid that I'm rather out of touch with the war news at the moment, as apart from reading the morning paper firmly, there never seems to be time to think about it. At the moment it seems to be going all right. Heavens, it will be unbelievable when  it is all over. I see this am, that the H G  are having their stand down parade on 3rd December. I shall try to listen to the King's speech. I am on duty that weekend and so may be reading to the juniors.

    I knew there was something I want to say. When is that photo coming out. I have reserved the place of honour over my dressing-table for it. And so dying to get it. I find it odd here, but I have lived so long, and do still half the time, with people whose main interest is when they will get home again, and the staff don't care much here. Donald and I are always planning things, even our meals! I will let you know in good time! Bunch said that Peter had sent you some Chanel, how lovely Ma. I am glad. However did he get it through?

     I suppose that the garden is all over now. Even the Michaelmas daisies.

     I'll try and write again soon. I do try to write as often as I can.

     With lots of love.

You retain honorary rank!  (addressed to Col Parkes)

 

   Am v pleased to have your first two letters today, here. I was so worried about my first two letters to you, and have made things worse by Donald cabling to tell everything will now be all right.


134

 

5:10:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

     It is Sunday evening, and I have just got back from Ismailia. Delighted to find your letter of 30th waiting for me Mummy, pretty good isn't it?

     We have decided that in future when we can manage I shall go down there instead of Donald coming up here. It is much nicer and costs about half, partly because we can stay at the YWCA, and now nearly all our friends have been posted from Cairo. A great pity. I normally get off 2-40 on Fridays, and if there is any transport, everything is fine, the 2-0 train on Sundays gets me back before dinner.

     There is a later one but I don't like wandering round by myself late at night except in the middle of Cairo, and as I told you the school is right on the outskirts of Heliopolis. (sorry I don't know what happened to the typewriter) we had a very pleasant weekend. I got off early on Friday afternoon, as the Palestinian Orchestra was playing at school, got there for tea. In the evening we went to a dance at a neighbouring aerodrome about 10 miles from Donald, to a v. good dance, we were staggered we were invited, as we couldn't think of anyone but we must be famous as a married couple I think. We went with another couple on their honeymoon,., but, on the way home in the shooting brake, at about 2-30, about four miles from Donald's aerodrome, we ran out of petrol! We got back to the YW at five. I find that I'm not as young as I used to be, and poor Donald had to get up at 7-30. We discover that it was dirt in the petrol pump in the end. Donald is trying hard for this posting at the moment, he's going to see the Air HQ about it this week he was going last week but of course there would be a sandstorm at the critical moment.

      I am sitting in my room at the moment after a hot bath, that train journey is so dirty, you probably remember Egyptian trains! I really ought to do some correction I suppose, but I think how will leave them till tomorrow. I'm getting wiser, I am v. careful how many things I set to be corrected at the same time. You see the forms are so enormous, the one I teach most has 32 children. I hear via the children that Donald's knows in Ismailia that I am very strict! Well you simply can't have a class of 32 children all talking. I was so fed up with them on Friday, I made them all stand up for half the lesson without moving, while I read the paper! It worked, they were as quiet as mice in the next lesson I had with them! They are nice children on the whole, though, and most unmalicious. The borders are very good. I am on weekend duty next weekend, and so will be in all time.

      Yes Mummy, I do still see all my A.T.S. charms. But unfortunately they are all away from Cairo except Jean at the moment. I am sending you a picture of them all at Margot's wedding.

      Marion and Nancy are at an OCTU, the one I should have been on, thank heaven, Robin, Pauline, and Rufus are all in Alex, Lindsay and Margot in Jerusalem. We all met at Margot's wedding as I told you, it was fun. Mrs Player has gone home, she was there too, this was the first weekend of term.

      It is all right Mummy, really thank you now about clothes. I have an adequate supply for the winter. They are short out here you know. I really don't like having winter clothes here much, as it is impossible to keep them. My invisible mending a month is terrific. There is every sort of insect invented here, which eats clothes, even in the school. Please don't send me your black frock, as you are much worse off than I am for them. It is v. sweet of you to have offered to me. You see if I leave some at home I'll have to come back to, and I hope I shan't be here for another winter.

     I am very glad to hear that Nanny is back. I hope she hasn't still got these mad ideas of the hours she must get up. Give her my love. I have sent her some Turkish Delight for Xmas, also some sweets of Me Aunt Bee and Gladys. They all went off this am the Xmas stuff, I carted it all down to Donald, and he coped. If I pack it up and buy it he pays for all my stamps. An enormous outlay! The cakes went off last week.

      I do hope that you have a happy two days in London Mummy. Am glad to hear that you are getting some clothes. What a frightful price for a suit, they are only that much here. I'm going to take the children to church in a scarf, before out here, I have just gone without a hat.

Lots of love now,

 

nearly dinner-time now, Good Oh, will write later on in the week.




135

 

8:XI:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

      I was no end pleased and glad to get your cable this morning. I was just dressing at about 7-30 this am when the small boy brought it up. You did time it well. I am waiting for Donald to ring up, he may have gone to Alex. He is going this week, D.V. about his posting. I do hope he will manage it. It would be so heavenly to have flat after three years of weekends! Still we have been terribly lucky, and I still think it was the best thing I have ever done or could do. I am very happy about it all. It does seem amazing to think that it is three years since we were married. But today has been awfully cold. and I am contemplating appearing in stockings tomorrow. I am wearing a skirt and blouse and cardigan at the moment. My khaki ones have dyed very well, and don't look like khaki a bit. One is maroon, the other brown. Yes Daddy, I have masses of money thank you. I shall start coining it in a month or two, when I get over buying clothes, still it means at the end the year you seem to get an extra month! You see I don't go out much. As a matter-of-fact I think it a good idea to lay in winter clothes as I shall need them at home again.

     Isn't it dreadful about Lord Moyne[44][ii] morning. I just can't see any solution for the Jews, I think the problem is nearly as insuperable as what do with Germany. It is the thing about often crops up in conversation out here, as half the population always seemed to be Jews. (Exaggerated but still.) I hope Lord Gort will take a firm line. I'm busy teaching the history of the Jews to IVa at the moment. It is a bit defeating as lots of them are Jewesses, and naturally know far more about it than I do! I shall be glad when I get on to the Greeks and Romans, as I am quite at home there. It is interesting though. My goodness you have to be careful. I was teaching the VI form about Lancs and its industries, and went on for a whole lesson about cotton. Saying that Lancashire lost a lot of her cheap markets, Egypt, India etc., and whether she was ever likely to regain them, and mortally insulted one or two Egyptian girls, by saying that Lancs would obviously continue to make the best cotton for some time to come! As the Egyptians weren't capable of it

     Had a lovely lot of mail this week. One from you on Monday Mummy, and one yesterday, and you too Daddy. Though I seem to have answered the Monday one. I have a sin to confess, I haven't posted the letter of that date, as I had no stamps, and had to go in to GHQ yesterday to get some. Have to get them from the army. However they shall both go off tomorrow. Daddy, please do send a copy of your book when you have it printed I should adore to see it. I think is a very good idea. It is a pity not pool all information somehow. It is very difficult keep it up now, without even an institution like the British Legion. Are you going to have lessons in law? I suppose you have to learn something about it. It must be very difficult.

      Am so glad that you are enjoying your two days in London, or rather did enjoy. I can just imagine Bunch and Joy talking! I sent Me Aunt Bee some very nice sweets last weekend. The ones from Home Made Cakes, toffees. How very nice seeing the Maitlands. I feel so sorry for them. I think Donald is good about writing to them. I bully him periodically. But I'm sure he never let us more than a fortnight go without doing so. Otis is coming up here next week I believe. At least I heard that in a very roundabout way, he is quite awful. I shall be cross with him, but it won't have any effect. It is so unkind and thoughtless of him. I quite see Donald's trouble in writing in a crowded mess all time, but Otis has his own house. Terribly sorry to hear about Monnie Mander. How dreadful about Tony.

     Poor Bunch wrote and told me how terrible she felt seeing a telegraph boy in the Manor H drive, when we have never had one before. I am afraid that Peter must be having a wretched time in Holland now. Apart from the fighting. It would be so wonderful of the war suddenly ended I feel that it must be over by the early summer anyway. Probably by the end of the winter.

 

Well good night and lots of love.






136

14:XI:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

      Haven't had any mail since I last wrote to you, but hope for some any minute. Daddy, do you remember giving me six pairs of stockings for Xmas 1940? Well, I put on one of the two remaining pairs, new, about two days ago, and they look wonderful. Amazing how they have lasted. You can't get colours like that out here at all. Such a nuisance.

      I spent the weekend on duty. It was half-term, and Monday was a holiday. I had a pleasant week end doing very little, as there were only three girls in, and all over about 14. So I just pottered down every few hours to see if they were all right. On Saturday afternoon we took them to a flick, that is, the boys, about eight left, and one master on duty, and another mistress. It was comic. It was a lousy film, but trailing around Cairo at 6-30 on Saturday evening with a dozen children was funny, and going into Groppi's to see if we could get any tea, ice-creams for the younger members of course! To add to the complications the cinema was right the other end of town from the Metro to Heliopolis. Right down near Abdin Palace, the Buckingham Palace of Cairo, and in the end of town which was the best quarter for 50 years ago, and now in true Egyptian style has fallen to bits, and is the haunt of all the dirty little native shops. I spent all weekend, writing half-term reports, and thinking up nice cracks, for the staff and headmasters use only, the parents don't see the half-term ones! And I mended like mad, and nearly finished a pair of parachute silk pants. I was enormously thrilled as one of the parents coming up from Ismailia, had run in to Donald, and he had asked her to bring me the most enormous bunch of flowers for of 8th November. Great big curly chrysanthemums (how ever do you spell them?) And about two dozen bronze roses. I was delighted. He rang up on Sat to say had been up to Alex, and applied for a posting to Cairo, and that they had been quite reasonable about it, but he has to wait a fortnight, as big things are happening. I think the formation is packing up. He thinks it sounds quite hopeful. And anyway they have a new C.O., so even if he has to stay, it can't be worse than it has been for him. Only since they have had this last C.O. I mean. About three months. Then yesterday, I wasn't on duty, and so we went into Cairo to scour the town for some sewing silk. Egyptians always labour under the delusion that sewing silk means silko. Then I met three children from Ismailia, on the train, and brought them back. I got into a row from the members of the staff for allowing myself to be talked into this. Actually, the mama asked Donald when she met him in Ismailia, and Donald said he thought I would, thinking that I was on duty on Monday. But of course anytime parents fuss, this always reminds me of my own school life, and so I help the parents if I can! This is meant complementarily rather than the reverse but I always want to laugh when this sort of thing crops up, as it reminds me so much of home! Anyway, some of the older people are kind to Donald and me in Ismailia. I am going down there next weekend I hope. If Donald can arrange for the truck to come here on the right day, it has to anyway. He is the M.T. officer amongst other odd jobs

     I have managed to find out quite a lot of dope about Lord Moyne's assassination, but unfortunately can't tell you, as is has been hushed up heavily. When anything like this happens, I immediately invite myself to Pat and Leslie's flat, and see some of the Embassy people. Donald gave me strict instructions to do so this time! I was most interested in what you said about the Jews in South Africa. Of course I never ran across them. Of course the question of Palestine often crops up out here, and what will happen. Pug was most interesting about it. I can see no solution myself. At the moment, the big thing out here is the Pan Arab movement. The only trouble is that all the Arabs appear to be so clueless. No organisation. It is dreadful really to live in Egypt, as you become so English it isn't true. This is a perfect instance. One other mistresses has a great friend who is an Egyptian, and apparently the staff refused to having in our dining room for meals. He is a nice man. I was most embarrassed, I went into Grace's room for a drink before dinner on Saturday night, and she had got several people there, and we all went down to dinner, but the Egyptian didn't come. This has been going on for five years!

     Well, I am going to stop babbling now, and leave a little room, in case some mail comes in the morning.

 

No mail, except from Ma Maitland.

 

Lots of love




137

20.XI.'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      I am at the moment extremely peeved, as two nights running I have come in and found my lights have fused, by some idiot using the iron and fusing mine as well. I seem they have spent so much of my time in the Middle East going to bed the dark and there is little that annoys me more. Also I came in a early to correct some books and write this, and now I haven't got any of it done.

     This evening I had been tribing around Cairo after a passport. I went to the consulate, and they wanted of all things, a copy of Donald birth certificate. Naturally I hadn't got one! So they sent me to Air Movements, who welcome me and said Oh yes, you're an air force wife now, and we do everything for you. I was so relieved, as anything to do with passports, and the Egyptians out here, is of course hell. They've filled up all the enormous form for me saying all about myself. Then took me downstairs and had me photographed, and it will be ready about four days if I can find a marriage certificate, and I know Donald has got one. Fortunately I don't need a visa to stay in Egypt, that is most awkward to get, as the Egyptian government as well as the people always believe in making things as difficult for English people as possible. But I am still counted as military personnel in Egypt, but need the usual visas outside Egypt, all of which the RAF will get for me. This is an enormous relief. I am doing all this for our Xmas leave. Though at the moment, I don't know if we shall ever get any., as if Donald's posting comes through, of course he will have to work over Xmas. But we're getting everything lined up to go.

      I was thrilled to bits to find those proofs of Bunch and the children when I went down to Ismailia last weekend. They are divine. Carol Ann and is perfectly sweet. I simply can't believe that Bunch can have two children like that. It is fantastic. She's very pretty. I didn't know her hair curled. Am v. pleased, or was it crimped for the day?! Her frock is delicious. Of course I couldn't see much of Angela. Everyone says how like me Bunch is, I don't see it myself. I go round to showing it to everyone. They are v. good for proofs. Am v. much looking forward to having the real photographs I do hope that Peter will like them, still I don't see how he could help it. Was also glad to find a couple of letters from you when I got back on Sunday night. Daddy, I am appalled to see all the Express and Star's efforts on getting you right. Am not sure, are you  J.P. for Tettenhall Division? I am appalled to hear about Nanny. I must make time and write to her poor thing. I do so want her to be at home when I come. How are the animals

     I also collected some Punches and Blackwood's and a Vogue when I was down Ismailia. We went out to Donald's mess on Saturday night, to listen to a man has made a clavichord out here. He has made six in all, one being the first five octaves clavichord to be made since 1750 or something. I was so amused, because we went into his tent, and he played some Bach or something and made one or two mistakes, then turned to me and said how sorry he was, as I knew so much about music. I shrieked with laughter and quickly disillusioned him, and he played very well after that. It is a funny little instrument, and sounds rather nice. We had a really lovely weekend. Donald has a new C.O., who seems very nice. We really went out there for me to meet him. The old one is on the boat, in disgrace as far as I can make out. He has really had it, Donald has done nothing but tell him off for misusing government transport without covering himself. He takes staff cars up to Palestine and that sort of thing, which is not well thought of, when you go by air, and send a driver. Now he has been caught in Alex, leaving his staff car in a civilian park, unlocked, with no driver, and with a revolver in the back. The unit is rejoicing.

 

I think Donald has gone up to Alex today about a posting. It is an effort doing this sort of thing unofficially. He feels if he can get over the winter without being posted anywhere fancy, all will be well till we get home.

    Feel v. sorry for Peter in Holland, it is getting cold here, but he is wonderful the way he doesn't seem to mind the cold much.

    Well I must correct a few books before I go to bed.

 

Lots of love,




138

24:XI:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

     Had a letter from you a couple of days ago Mummy. Saying that Jim is missing. Oh dear I am sorry. He is such a dear, and he seems to get nice as he gets older. I do hope that he'll turn up soon. It must be dreadful for the Swansons waiting for news of him. I wrote a letter card to Mrs Swanson yesterday, when I got your letter. It is very sad. How nice of her to ring up and tell you about Peter, Donald was with a great friend of Peter's, when he rang up for Alex on Wednesday. Dick Rowntree. He was in Lockites. I shall hear all about it when I see him tomorrow. He went up about his posting. Things are happening so quickly out here, and everything folding up right left and centre. That you have to get on the job quickly. He said over the phone that things are going well, but couldn't say any more, I think he was in Dick's office. It would be wonderful. I saw Mr Whiting yesterday to sign my contract. He said that if I did live out he would be pleased, as they have another young new staff coming out from home, and no room. My pay has gone up too! At least cost of living allowance. It is now £25 net, i.e. with Egyptian income tax deducted. If I live out here it will be about £36 a month! It sounds terrific I know, but I assure you it isn't out here, the cost of living has risen 300 per cent. I am as usual having a v busy time. My play is on Monday week. I am rather hopeless in this sphere. Still am v. lucky in having the v. efficient head girl as my head of the house, and she is also producing the play. Such a nice girl. The school cert. results were out this week. For girls, 12 out of 14 matriculated, one failed, and one passed! They all take it, not like dear Lawnside! I think it is excellent. The children start off with such a handicap in most things. School cert. is such an English exam. And so many of them have foreign mothers and English fathers. And anyway they know nothing of England, from looks, customs, history or geography. The boys' results were equally good, the matric proper was out last week, and they all passed I think. They take school cert, and hope to get matric exemption, the same as I did, or take London matric exam. Or both. It is exams directly after the play, so I shall have to set and mark papers directly after the play. What a change, from taking exam perpetually myself. The form I enjoy teaching most are the sixth. They are genuinely interested. We're doing British Isles. They ask such priceless questions. We did the woollen industry of Yorkshire this week. And bearing in mind Mr White, I told them all about mohair and plush for cinema seats, and they couldn't understand what it was. Seats out here are leather or basket! Their average age is about 16 1/2.

    Mummy darling, I am horrified at you suggesting sending me new clothes out here. You need every coupon you have got for yourselves. It is very sweet of you to suggest it, but don't. I am perfectly adequate amount of clothes now. I need very few winter clothes compared with home, though it is cold now. My old clothes look lovely. I am dying to wear my grey suit. But I haven't found a good enough occasion. The next time Donald comes to Cairo I shall. But I don't want to mess it packing it. The dhobi on the roof is a wonderful ironer.

     I am glad that you saw Philippa's photographs. I must do something about the Adsheads and them, but really it is such an effort. You see I am about 40 minutes' journey by a tram and about five minutes walk from Cairo, I work all day till all GHQ smart work in the evening, when I stop, and it is such a long way for people bring me back at night, I can't come by myself, it is unsafe. Then at weekends, I go to Ismailia, or I am on duty. People are always asking me for dinner, but there is always getting back after, it is 90 pt taxi, there and back, and similarly you can't go in taxes alone at night except in the middle of Cairo. And you know I am the least nervous person in the way of looking after myself, but I have learned out here. Anywhere I have too much work mostly, and I like staying though the food is so good, and it's so comfortable.

      How amazing to see the Seymour's after all these years. Poor things they must be lonely. I had forgotten about Dick

     Ian Champion turned up to see me yesterday morning! He is at BOAC and living out in Helio! so I asked him to dinner on Monday night, as I had to dash off and teach, or there would have been the most awful noise coming out of the form room! I imagined he was still in shorts but find he's only about two years younger than me!

    I am reading Rosita Forbes's book. Donald enjoyed it, so am I. She is a revolting woman, and how she can like the Arabs is beyond me.

    Well I'm going to have my bath before the children get all hot water. I bought a bottle of quite decent Cyprus sherry this evening, in celebration of my rise in pay.  32 pt. It is not bad at all. I get white bread, English soap and toothpaste, if I'm lucky, cornflakes etc there. Also we are allowed a bottle of imported spirit among. Donald has his in the mess, so we have mine at the weekends. Gin 57 1/2 pt and 5 pt back on a bottle.

    I forgot to say how sweet Carol Ann's frock is. Tell B. Please let me know about Jim. It is dreadful, all this needless waste.

 

Lots of love,






139

 

29.XI.44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    Sorry this is not typed. You will all have to get together and translate it! I try very hard when writing on blackboards! Usually I print! I am at the moment in bed for the day, with my usual, a boil. In the usual place, absolutely right in the middle of my behind, so that all I can do is lie on my side or tummy! Can't sit, stand or walk! Don't let this worry you though, everyone has them. As soon as Donald get posted here, and if, I shall go in for a course of injections at the RAF's expense. They cured him out here, drugs are very difficult to get except through service sources, and so, though I could have them from the school doctor free, or all but the price of the drug, I feel it is better to wait to get the best. Incidentally, being ill here is all catered for in my contract, there is a clause saying that doctors' fees free and Anglo American hospital subscription paid by the school. So that instead over £2 a day, I would have to pay 14 shillings plus drugs. Not that I anticipate being ill, but it's a nice thing to have arranged. Matron, who is a nice female, about 40, 45, comes in and dresses it for me, Mrs Whiting the headmaster's wife, has been in, and all the other members of the staff. You have both asked questions about the latter in your last letter so I'll tell you about them. They are - the women - all English except one Australian and the language people. The boarding house mistress, house and biology is Grace Drummond, Australian BA and very nice, about 40. Then Mrs Sampson who lives out with her husband, 45 or 50, Latin and history house mistress. Also very nice and very kind. Don't see her much of course, but I adore her conversation. Then Mrs Horrocks, H. mistress, 45-50 also v. nice. English. Then there are the senior mistresses along with me. Only Grace lives in. Next Ruby Wilson, 40, Middle School, teaches everything. Nice and kind but thoroughly common! Also a house mistress. Then there are sundry junior mistresses for the junior school none of whom I know well, except Mrs O'Sullivan (a v. young 35 I think) who is rather like Joan White, I like her very much. She has just been into see me. her husband is out here too, as a major. Then there is Joyce, the other girl who was discharged from the A.T.S. with me, who lives out, so I don't see her when awful lot, which is a pity. Oh there are two other priceless women who live in, Mrs Lang (Kay) and Miss Hanson -  Doo. They are big, beefy, blonde and identical, and teach the babies they and I share boarding house duties, while Grace runs it. They have a lovely sense of humour. They're about 30. And great friends.

    As I went down to see Donald on Saturday for the night. Things are going well at the moment. Unless something goes seriously wrong, Donald ought to be posted here by Xmas. His relief is due to arrive in a fortnight.

 

I'm afraid that these two letters will be delayed as the system has temporally fallen through! Am v. sorry

this is no 1.


140

 

29.XI.44

 

      But of course, with all these things, you can never be sure of anything till it happens. This is the nearest yet anyway. We discussed our flat all weekend deliriously! It would be so wonderful, and Mr Whiting - who is so nice, would be quite glad if I lived out as he has another girl - very young the staff say, she's 23! But age of course in the school always makes me laugh as I am at least 15 years younger than all senior staff. Donald, if it all works, will be about 500 yards from here! He will know definitely in about a fortnight. If it does, we shall of course not get Xmas leave, which will be an awful pity.

      My Xmas presents have arrived! It's all I can do not have open them, lying in bed looking at them. In fact, I did succumb and opened auntie's. It is so sweet of her. I am awfully touched. Because I realise that things must be even more difficult to get at home than when I left. I always feel so awful I don't send you more. She has sent Donald a book, I know he'll love it. Most beautiful Irish lace. I shall have it made into an evening blouse its exactly the same colour as the crepe de chine I sent B. I bought myself a camiknicker length, so will go beautifully underneath. I shall write to her this evening. I am dying to undo yours, but I am going to wait till Xmas. One of Donald's drivers dropped them here yesterday. I want to see my last month's Xmas present from Donald being made up yesterday. A blouse in brocade from the Alep. at least a long plain sort of jacket. It looks absolutely wonderful. All red and silver. Also this suffragi's brocade (silk only,  not ?? and silk) which he gave me, also looks sweet. Shall wear one for the school dance on December 16. we break-up on Dec 21. For 14 days. I am driven mad trying to buy Donald an Xmas present. He is as bad out here as you are Daddy! He wants things for our house, but hates native stuff. I tried to buy him a silver Benson and Hedges cigarette case. But no. He prefers the tin. Everyone out here use the tin of B.&H. for a cigarette case. It holds 20. It isn't too heavy for tropical shirt pockets, I suppose that's why. Finally in desperation I gave him £5 for the officers shop, as he's very short of clothes, shirts, socks etc and would try to find something for Xmas day. He won't have or use anything nice out here. Oh dear, I am babbling.

      I have nearly been driven mad with Bairam, (Moslem Xmas) it lasts for three days, Sunday, Monday & Tues. On Sunday, the train arrived in Cairo at 9:45pm instead of 5:45pm from Ismailia. Seven and three quarter hours in the train! Then on Monday, as I was rushing back from Cairo in the Metro, as Ian Champion was coming to dinner, after my fitting, it broke down, and I had to take a 38 pt taxi. They always do this sort of thing all over the Bairam. the natives go into a sort of extra Coma and state of inefficiency. Was v. glad to have your two letters, yours today Mummy of 21st, and Daddy yours on Sunday of 20th No. 82. Am glad to hear that Carol Ann is better again. Poor little thing. Does she call you Granny and Grandpa yet?! Or anything. Glad Nanny is better too. How is  Bertie? What a relief about Brian Wilcock. I'm very sorry to hear about their baby, how pathetic. Still he oughtn't to be a P.O.W. for  long now. I really am dreadfully sorry about Jim. Donald didn't seem to think he'd stand a hope. I wrote to Mrs S about a week ago. Just had your note that you are dropping Col Daddy! But I can't put all your titles on a letter to Mummy!  Am glad you're enjoying the bench and Lots of love R


 

7.XII.44    (141?)

 

My Darling Daddy,

    This is a birthday letter. Many happy returns. And I sincerely hope next time, that we shall be at home. I think we stand a fairly good chance, as the war in Germany will most certainly be over. I do so long to see you, you know. I am happy and contented out here, but I sometimes get the most awful pangs of homesickness. Things seem to be changing so much at home too, and often too. I would give anything to see some of the people I am really very fond of, you and my few odd great friends. Well, next year, I think we shall be able to celebrate your birthday at home. I sent you some crystallised fruits, stuffed dates and the like. I do hope you will get them all right. It's rather dull I am afraid, but there are so few things out here now worth buying that you would like. I have sent you and Mummy for Xmas, a round engraved silver cigarette tin, J think is rather nice, and a cake. They were all posted at the beginning of November. Some of the things I would really like to buy a miles too big. There are lovely copper pans and milk things in the Musky for about five shillings! I adore them, but how to bring them home is beyond me. I'm getting rather alarmed about our luggage, at the moment we are only allowed 4 cwt between us. I have got all my books which weigh so much. Incidentally, I am keeping all Blackwood's and Countryman's for you, also my Geog. journals.

      At the moment I'm invigilating the first of the exams, in the VI form. All is perfect peace. Quite lovely! One of the things I'm going to enjoy most about coming home is the P&Q of the Manor Ho. You must remember the noise of these Oriental places, it's the people's voices, their horns and donkeys and carts and of course the trams. I am thoroughly enjoying this job. I think it must be awfully good for me too. I have to work like mad, and think jolly hard for myself as well as them. The contrast after the ATS is quite overwhelming. Am  going to have absolute hell for the next few days, nearly all my exams are Monday and Tuesday, and they all have to be marked, end of term reports done and the whole lot handed in by Friday, so I'm afraid you will suffer. I'm very sorry that I don't write as often as I would like to in school, as I really don't have time. Today as well I have one and a half-hours of special coaching in maths to two backward kids! Patience isn't in it, and I never can bear people who think slowly! So I am extra nice to them!

     Last night I went to GHQ to have my passport photo retaken and see about visas for Xmas. I told you about the former didn't I? They sent me a letter saying would I have another one done. Apparently the photo was quite unrecognisable I even closed my eyes! Donald howled with laughter. Anyway, just as I was coming out, John Oliver passed me in a doorway. I was so staggered I didn't speak to him. He's now an air commodore. So I wrote him a note and left it at GHQ. Should like to see him. I should have thought his career was ruined running off with his boss's daughter. But he's got another stripe.

 

    Darling Daddy, I do love all your titles! I think you have done very well. But anyway, happy birthday. I do hope that you are not missing the H.G. too much now. We saw pictures of the last parade in the papers here. Lots and lots of love R.




142

 

8:XII:44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

 

    This is Xmas letter. Sorry it can't be typed as I'm invigilating an exam. I hope that you have a very, very happy one, in spite the war, and that next year will really be better. I am sure that you will enjoy Xmas, as I imagine that Carol Ann will be old enough to understand a little what is going on, and like an Xmas tree. She must be sweet. Next year, I think Donald and I really stand a good chance of being home. Still no doubt we shall have fun. I am dying to open my Xmas present. I think it shows great restraint to keep it this long! I do hope that yours will arrive all right, I am a bit worried about your cigarette box. I sent you a rather nice engraved silver tin, which was in excess of what I am allowed to send monetarily, but I put a duty-free label on, and made up the few things and hoped for the best, the same with Bunch's and Angela's. They were all sent off between Nov 1 and 5. The cakes went first - one to you and one to Byfleet. I hope soon to be able to send you more food, if Donald gets here, I shall be able to deal at the NAAFI for everything, instead of what is now called breakfast ration, which I get as I don't run a flat that is, white bread, sauces, marmalade, sweets, cigarettes, beer, cornflakes etc. But not sugar, tea, or dried fruit or tinned stuff. Donald is coming up today to see about his posting. I think we ought to know tonight whether we win or lose - Oh dear. I get so tired of all these decisions. Otis arrived yesterday, and rang me within 10 minutes of arriving. I was v. touched. So we shall have a lovely weekend. He is going to a wedding tomorrow and taking me too. Donald is delighted of course. He's very good with Otis, and I think the only person whose opinion Otis respects in the least. I shall bully him and nag all weekend to see if I can make him write a letter or two.

     I have had, and am going have, a hectic time. The ?? were Monday and Tuesday. Mine came second out of four and was really not at all bad. On Tuesday night Mr and Mrs Whiting had a party for all the house masters and mistresses which was very pleasant. Then Thursday, yesterday, exams started. I only had one yesterday, which I had corrected. And two today, and 7 on Monday and Tuesday. Of course I invigilate all the time. But they all have to be corrected and reports written by Friday which is quite frightful. The reports are for the parents, you can't just so the child is so dull and incapable of working, but must be diplomatic! Thank heavens though I have now all but finished my letters. I do hope that there will arrive in time. Will send you a cable though next week some time. I think, just to make sure. The mail is now delayed a bit here, your last letter took 8 days, Mummy. No, I am sorry, didn't I mention the magazines? I think I always get them, and look forward to them enormously. So does everyone else I live with! I am saving the Countryman, Blackwood's and Vogue - the latter are invaluable now I'm a civilian. I always think, when there's ordinary mail in, how nice, I shall get some magazines and papers. I wouldn't see things like Punch which I like so much, or Vogue or Home and Country, at all otherwise. Thank you v. much for them. There are some due now I fancy. But I know there are some in my Xmas parcel. But I think the mail boat must be about due in. They come at fairly regular intervals. Perhaps Donald will have some for me, this week or next. It will be wonderfully simple for mail if we have a flat.

 

    Well anyway, a v. Happy Xmas and I shall miss you a lot, to even more than usual and next year hope were together. All love R

 

    Mummy, I will reply about A.T.S. gratuity and pay in my next and Pug and Margie. So glad Tom and Birt are well and fat.

 





(143)                                        Air Head Quarters, Egypt

                                             RAF MEF

                16:XII:44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

Note new address, but you can continue of course to use mine. This am I sent off a cable, I'm very sorry Daddy, it will probably be a day late arriving for your birthday. I haven't been able to get into Cairo all the week to send one, due to exams and duty. Anyway I'll think of you. As you see Donald has been posted! Where we wanted too! Isn't it marvellous? I am down in Ismailia for the last weekend, and he is coming up to Cairo as soon as his relief arrives, which will be about Wednesday. We're going to stay, I hope, at a very nice hotel in Cairo over Xmas - the Carlton, its supposed to be the most comfortable. Then starts the job of finding a flat! I do want to find one before term starts on Jan 4th. We shall have to live in Cairo or Zamalek, across the other side the river on Gezira as Donald begins work at 8-0 till 1-0, then 5-0 - 8-0, and I 8.45 till 3.30, and the school bus will pick me up and drop me wherever I want to go, and he would have to travel on the very very crowded Metro from Helio to Cairo. Its hell at GHQ hours. Also he would have to start at 7.15 and get back for dinner at 8.45. So Cairo it is. This is a pity as flats are like gold to find and cost as much. A decent one is £50 a month furnished! Really, 3 bedrooms, dining  sitting room, and kitchen and bathroom, and small that! But I hope we shall be able to get one for about £30 or £35 and have it with another man. Donald of course will get living out allowances which are something like £35 a month, but as you see by rent, you need it! You can't live in a hotel if you want to as places like Shepherd's, Continental, Carlton etc will only let you stay a fortnight or so. Of course I can't really believe that everything is turning out quite so wonderfully and that soon we shall be living on our own flat. Donald hopes - if we are very lucky - to stay there till we come home. He is the one and only engineering staff of this new HQ which is just forming. Good posting from the job point of view. I think he's done very well. I just can't believe it. I am dying to get us settled now. I expect, now things are working out right, a cheap flat and a nice man will fall straight into our laps. We don't want to live with another married couple, not that we know one who isn't already well ensconced, as we agree one woman to argue is enough! Men are so much easier. Then I shall run the flat for me I wanted to! Well the school. I'm afraid I haven't written for a week - I  think I have worked so hard this week that my brain feels rather like a worn out sponge. I have corrected 12 exams papers of forms varying from 17 to 32 people, written end of term reports for 89 children in numerous subjects and house reports and added up all their marks, percent them etc etc etc till I dream of adding! However I finished the last report this morning and all is well. I shall have a quiet two or three days then Xmas term ends on Thursday. Mind you, I have not disliked all the work oddly enough at least I quite like doing all the arithmetic unlike everyone else! I am glad I have had one term of living in. I have got used to the way school runs, and have broken the back of learning how to teach. I shall be very sorry in some ways not to be there still. Next term won't be nearly such hard work, no exams than no plays. My jersey and gloves have arrived thank you Mummy, and a Blackwood's also Express and Star, but no mail except one from Bunchie. Held up by Xmas I suppose. Well all love and isn't it lovely? R.


Air Headquarters Egypt (Unit)

RAF MEF

 

26:XII:44  Boxing Day

 

144

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      I do so hope you had a happy day yesterday. I thought about you so much and hoped that you were all right. Hope to heavens that next year we shall all be together again. I have got so much to tell you. First of all, I think, about yesterday. We are staying at the Carlton in Cairo for ten days. Yesterday a.m. we got up quite late, and undid your parcel. I have been dying to do this ever since I had it at the end of November! It more than came up to my expectations. We did enjoy it. How you find all these lovely things I don’t know. I was so pleased with the blouse, and so I had something new to wear on Xmas day. It looks wonderful with my grey suit. I thought it was very good, there was hardly a crease in it. The fudge of course ... we have been restraining ourselves ever since. Its so sweet of you and so naughty to send these things that take coupons. The scarf is lovely too, and I can't get any scented soap here, though now it is possible to get English Lux and Palmolive from the NAAFI. I am still using a tablet you sent me last Xmas, the wire? Talcum powder which you sent me for my birthday. You can't get the latter out here, and I use masses when its hot. It was a lovely parcel, and I adored opening it. Was so glad I saved it. Donald gave me some very, very nice new RAF wings. I told you I think that I lost mine immediately I got here, I sent them on a shirt to the dhobi. These are delicious and even nicer than the others. I wanted them badly. Then we got ourselves up and walked to the cathedral - the taxis are on strike - the pashas (Lords) have been issued with tyres, and the taxi drivers were promised them and didn’t get any. It makes it difficult to get about. We had to be at the cathedral by 10.30 for 11.0. It was packed solid, mostly Service people. The Ambassador was there, and the G.O. C. in C. and the RAF A.O.C. in C. and in fact all Cairo. The service was rather disappointing - bad sermon from the Bishop, considering his congregation. But I have never heard anything like the singing, even if not the best, it raised the roof. Am sending you the service. I of course started thinking about you and home and nearly burst into tears in my best style in the most public place! We called on one or two people on the way back, had a very late lunch about 2.45, did nothing all the afternoon, and then went to Shepheards to dinner and dance with four other people whom we know very well. Don’t think you’ve heard of them. One of them - Gina Mardern, and American woman has been v. kind to me ever since I was in Kasr el Nil Barracks. She's about 32 or 33. It was a lovely party. Am sending menu. Packed of course. Xmas trees, and every one in terrific form. The whole ballroom was obviously full of Xmas spirit. The sensation of the evening was a long la?? full colonel who conducted the band with terrific vigour and very well most of the evening, wearing a bowler hat! We got in about 1.0 I think. Got up very early this a.m. Its only 8.30 now, and I've tidied the room, and had breakfast. Donald starts work at 8.0, and its about 15 minutes walk there. I think I shall tell you all things I want in the next letter. I hope my pen isn't going to run out. 

  


 

Air Headquarters Egypt (Unit)

RAF MEF

 

145

 

26:XII:'44

 

Was very pleased to get your cable on Saturday, no Friday. And I also think that my Xmas present money ahs arrived, at least I have a note from the bank saying would I call, This of course will be most opportune, but see below.

    I am feeling so ashamed about my letter writing of late that I don’t know that I shall dare look when I last wrote. My life for the last fortnight has been to say the least of it, hectic. This was greatly complicated by having an attack of tonsillitis all the week, which made me feel like death. It has gone now, and I really think it was probably due to tiredness. I was quite worn out. I was so tired I couldn’t be bothered to do anything any longer. First of all there were the exams and correcting papers till I nearly threw them all in the fire, and adding up marks eternally and writing reports and coping with extremely excited children! On top of this I wrote 20 Xmas letters, Donald got posted here, and I had a violent search to find somewhere to stay in Cairo. Quite as bad as London, eventually we got here. Thank heaven. We wanted to stay here, it’s the most comfortable place and the best road. The rooms are just like the Cumberland. We've got a lovely one. We only got in because one of the staff, whose husband ??? the owner very well, rang up every day ad bullied! She's a nice female. Have seen a lot of her. Teaches the juniors. Of course I can't really believe that Donald is posted here. Its all too wonderful for words. Then the final thing - this crushed me! Looking for a flat. I have found a wonderful one, but I had to take it before Donald could see it. The decision was awful because of the price - please don’t have hysterics - £35 a month. The whole staff and all our friends assure its very cheap! Of course it makes me die of horror if I dare compare it with home! Some flats on fezine?? Of the same size or smaller are £60!! Really. I should think about £15 or 20 normally. We're thrilled to bits. Get out your map of Cairo. Its exactly opposite the Metro Cinema. Very, very central. The school bus will pick me up in the morning and bring me back at 4.15. Its about 7 minutes walk for Donald. So we shall save ourselves an enormous amount in transport. Its on the 7th floor, and just been completely redecorated. It has 3 bedrooms, a square hall dining room, and a lounge, bathroom, lavatory, little weeny boxroom and a decent kitchen. Its furnished or course, and the furniture is at least innocuous. It also, unlike any other flat in Cairo has matching crockery for six, cutlery etc and glasses. We have unfortunately to get the sheets, but we are getting them for 8/- each from the officers shop. They are quite decent, and might help at home. We have got three single and one double bed. We propose to have at least one other person to share with us, and are now starting to look around. Then we can third expenses. It will help enormously with the rest. We are getting a suffragi from Shepheards I think. You can imagine what an enormous decision this was me having to decide to take the flat. Of course I rang Donald up, but its not much help. But I daren't not take it, they are all just the same price, and this is so nice, clean and spacious and light, and sunny, as well as being so convenient. We thought it better to take a flat which was too big for us, rather than a pokey little one, and have someone to share, as the rooms are so small otherwise, also you don’t get the small rooms in such good areas. And as you know


 

146

 

26:XII:'44

 

    we are so gregarious that we don’t mind. I am just too thrilled for words. It has many advantages, they've even left us an iron, ironing board and a wireless! We have an English landlord too, it belongs to one of the children at schools father. I am a bit shattered as I gave her a bad report before I heard of the flat! Its all so exciting. Do wish you could see it. Of course its not what we'd really like to live in, and I hate living in the town, but for now its wonderful, and it will be such fun. Donald's potty about it. now you can see where most of the £25 will go!! I am going to buy some shoes, heavy navy blue suitable for England, but the rest I shall spend joyously on sheets and things. We shall have to put down a months rent in advance, but Donald is going to get that from home. You see he's saving at home rather more than £12 a month, and has been doing for ages. We also hope to go on doing this and not touch that third of his pay, also my dress allowance. I think we ought to manage all right, not touching these two, as long as we get a third person, even without I think we could do it. Of course we shan't go out much. Won't want to. It will be heaven to have all our friends to see us. We were determined to have a flat with a  spare room. Everyone is coming of course. Please forgive me for being such a pig about not writing. It isn't because I don’t think of you, you know. Its just because I was so worn out, rushed, and feeling pretty ill. Next letter will be much better, and I really do like it very much.

    Am very worried about the war at the moment, and terribly for Bunch. It is all so ghastly for her. It made me thoroughly miserable yesterday a.m. to think how upset she must be. This sounds odd, but I really think that I'll be gladder to see Peter than anyone else, because everything will be all right in the family. Poor Mrs Swanson, they must have had a very bad Xmas. They have had so many happy ones in the past. I feel out of it here.

    Did the children enjoy their Xmas very much. Am sure they must have done. Dar little things. Suppose that you had fairy lights and an Xmas tree. I suppose Carol Ann is just old enough. Xmas is really for children I think. Am longing for the big pictures of them. I have given the most implicit instructions to everyone left in the school from the suffragi up, as to where I am. I think it ought to be all right. I would love to see the Boustreds again. Especially as he has just seen you. I shall be going out to the school again today and quite often anyway very often to pack clothes etc. I shall change to the address then to Donald's office, and give a telephone number when we move on Friday. I saw Pip Braithwaite of all people this week. He wrote and came to see us on Xmas Eve, in the afternoon. He is a pity. I can't think why, he's no nicer, in fact nastier. He is so common, I can't think why, May and Charles are anything but. Donald was very nice. He still has those ridiculous long sentences. He's on route to Persia. We felt very embarrassed sadly. This is an officers only pub, and he's a Sgt. and had to bring another - sweet little one - with him as they are not allowed out alone where he is stationed as people are always getting shot. There is nowhere you can go in Cairo at all with O.R.'s and officers. We went out to tea finally. Still we told him to come and see us in the flat. That's easy anyway. It is difficult, every single place is officers and women's services only or O.R.'s only, or Sgts only. I didn’t know he was married. He looks very well. Well I must go to the bank - not that it will be open, banks never are in this country, they have all English holidays, as well as lots ??? like the King's Birthday and highdays and holidays, all Egyptian holidays, (very numerous) and odd things like Greek? Liberation etc. I want to see if ? ? £25 from you. It will be heavenly buying things for the flat with it. We want a gas ring and thing like that. Will tell you though as I buy. You are angels. Well lots of love for now. Look after B. Sorry I was so awful not writing. R.

 


147

 

29:XII:'44

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

       Today it is going to be very hectic. So I thought I'd dash off a note to you before I can start being hectic, and while my breakfast digests (8.0 am)  I always feel the hours that I get up out here must amaze you!

      I am fantastically relieved to see that the French news looks better, or did up till yesterday. I keep thinking how ghastly it must be for you all at home, and  Bunch. Still I think it seems better now. Of course this Greek mess. I suppose we probably hear more than you of it, it's all headlines. Of course living here, and seeing so many Egyptian Greeks, it all quite understandable. There were thousands of Greek soldiers too, but they've nearly all gone - like the Dutch. The people out here, Egyptian Greeks, colonial French (the worst all) and Jews of every kind and type, do give one the most appalling idea of any nationality bar English and Americans, oh and Turkish and Armenian Cypriots, Malts - they're the end.

     I was very pleasing I was very pleased to get a letter from you Mummy when I went to the school to pack yesterday. Of 19th December. How lovely the settee sounds. I think it's a very good idea. You're very lucky to get hop?skin gloves I imagine. I don't think you can get any here, I wouldn't dare ask the price anyway! Not I expect that they are much less at home, but they are not made like English ones. How nice being in the drawing room again. I love the drawing room. I'm sorry you've had a touch of bronchitis, glad you're OK for Christmas. I'm quite recovered from my mental worn-outness now. I must ring up everyone I can think of in the school and give them Donald's phone number for Mr Boustred. If you ever need it, it's 49999 ex. 156. Do hope we managed to contact. I gave them all my address, but now we're moving into the flat today! Isn't exciting. In an hour, I'm going to the NAAFI to buy all the oddments but I've no doubt that that the first meal we shall find we have forgotten something really vital like salt! We are not having a suffragi for a few days, and play by ourselves over the weekend till I go back to school again. I have got to go round with the owner this morning and check the inventory and then we are moving in after lunch. All this is a little difficult as the taxes are still on strike, Donald collected most my luggage from school yesterday. Fortunately the hotel is only 2 or 300 yards from the flat. We have seen too absolutely excellent flics over Christmas, Marie Curie and Pride and Prejudice. Have you seen them?

    Am going to the dentist on Sunday am, a friend of Donald's, I think it's time might my were looked at. Just a routine check. But he's excellent dentist, RAF of course. Used to be at Charterhouse too. He and Donald talk about the mechanics of dentistry for hours, it always amuses me. Am used to medical shop but not dental!

    Well I must go out and do the marketing! I want to get the whole thing running smoothly before I start school. Lots and lots of love R

    How awful for a Christmas Day.


 

148

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

     I am sitting comfortably in our new flat writing this, and waiting for Donald to come home to dinner. We are having a heavenly time. I am thoroughly enjoy myself house keeping. I start school tomorrow though. Still I shall have Saturdays and Sundays off. We are delighted with everything, and even seemed to have got a good suffragi. He cooks well and seems keen, and at the moment, honest. We moved in nearly a week ago. Five days. It's all great fun. Next Sunday we are having a squadron leader in with us, we don't think we can cope by ourselves, and the flat is very large. It's lovely. We have had a few odd people in for tea and a drink and they have all been duly full of a admiration! We even get really hot baths from our gas geyser which no one else in Cairo seems to get!

       Have had some letters from you today and yesterday, with which I am v.  pleased. Daddy, Donald's address is, as I put on the cable, Air Headquarters Egypt (unit), RAF, MEF, not Air HQ, because then it goes to GHQ and all round the place. They are two different air formations. They have a v. good tracing system though, and letters are only a day late. Yesterday I had one from you Daddy, No. 86, written after Xmas so glad you had a happy time and enjoyed having the Boustreds. I suppose that Carol-Ann adored it all. Hope she likes "Biggies" bed! It is awful the way we are all separated. Poor Hilda must be very worried about David. Am also delighted that the parcels I sent you have to have arrived safely, I was rather worried over this new customs duty thing. Hope you enjoyed the dates. I must now lay on some NAAFI stuff for you, and be thoroughly corrupt. I had a very funny morning getting our paraffin tickets. Egypt is so corrupt it isn't true. I stalked through all the natives and got just double one ration by going straight into the Controller of Paraffin's office and looking helpless! I find it helps not to speak Arabic on these occasions! Egypt is busy having a few little riots at the moment. The police sit around in coveys wearing tin hats. The taxi strike is over thank heavens for. But we have been drowned by 2 day's rain! Really nearly drowned, all transport u.s. and army camps washed away. Nothing in the country is organised for rain, and the mud huts naturally collapsed, all the native huts are made of mud and petrol tins. Worst storm for 37 years.

     Had lots of magazines and Times too today and yesterday for which thank you very much. They're all dated about Nov 5. Parcel post delayed suppose it's Xmas. So we are covering the flat with Punch, Vogue and W. Journals and it looks more like home.

      Was so pleased to see the papers that the first D-Day troops are home on leave. B. must be wildly excited. My mail is a little disorganised, Donald picked up some old letters up at the school for me today when he went near there, but I hope that I shall soon hear that Peter's home. The news certainly seems better than when I last wrote.

      Well it's now 8.5 so Donald should be in in 5 or 10 minutes. I hear dinner been laid. We had tomato soup and cauliflower cheese for lunch, and tonight grilled ham, peas and as above!

Lots of love R.


149

 

9:1:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    Had your letter 87 of 2.1.45 this evening, Daddy, thank you v. much. But do send it to the school or the above address as it takes two days longer. You must admit life is v. busy, will give you my daily life! Get up 7.0, breakfast at 7.30, leave to catch bus 7.45. See suffragi and order meals. Come back about 4.0 and have tea. Donald leaves for work at 5.0. Then I settle down correct books and do work for next day generally, have bath, see suffragi over days accounts, he comes in at about 7.30 to cook dinner for 8.45, Donald comes back 8.15 - 8.30. Have dinner, go to bed at 9.45 or 10. We have a good suffragi who does everything. He brings tea at 7.0, and stays till after lunch, and then comes into get dinner. He also does the shopping. I do it at weekends, Sats, Sunday's to make sure he isn't cheating me too much. But I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and I don't really think it will be any more hectic, as I shall have every Saturday and Sunday off and will not be  tearing 100 miles to Ismailia all the while. I was late in this evening and didn't arrive to 5.30, as I stayed to watch my house hockey match, they lost unfortunately. I am at the moment busy learning up Greek history. I have now reached them in ancient history and with IVa. Much easier than Jewish anyway and pleasanter. Also I am not teaching them geometry this term, Grace and I have swapped, she's here teaching geography and I geometry, so we changed. Alan Maitland, Donald's young cousin turned up to see us on Saturday and stayed till Sunday. He's a nice boy, a sub-lieutenant in the Fleet Air arm and just like a baby thin Donald. He's on his way to Australia. Nice to see him. Have only met him once before. Do hope Mr Boustred will turn up soon. I hope he will find me, as you have given him at the wrong address, it's not it is not Air HQ, I said in the cable. Air HQ Egypt they are two different things. Still he will I hope that ring up the school. It's all in the telephone book. The squadron leader, who is also at Egypt moved into the flat this afternoon. He's a nice man - one Harry Summers. Yorkshire! Marion and Nancy have come back to Cairo and dropped into see us on Sunday morning. It is nice to have them back again. Rufus and Lyndsey are both in Palestine. Pauline and Robin at Alex. But I shall be seeing Marion and Nancy often now I hope. Would you tell Bunchie that the Arden stuff she ordered me in November arrived intact today. Am v. pleased. Posts are very delayed at the moment. Have just heard Fatalla, the suffragi come in. Must go and see him about the day. It's 7.45 now. And Harry will be in in half an hour or so. All love R

 

Housekeeping is easy groceries are just double English ones, and vegetables treble! Potatoes 10 times! It's easy to remember anyway.


150                                         English School

                                            Sth Tayaran

15.1.'45                                    Heliopolis

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

      Am just sending you one of them these new letter cards as a matter of interest. They came into being about Xmas, I shan't often send them as they cost three times military ones and I don't like the shape.

      High spot of this letter is that Mr Boustred has been and gone. I had a phone call on Thursday afternoon to say would I ring Friday am. This I did, and we went and had dinner with him at Shepherd's on Friday night, and he left at 5:00am Saturday I was so pleased see him and hear all about you, and get the photographs. I must say I don't think they are particularly flattering of either of you two, but it's lovely to have them. They are of course wonderful of the child. She is divine. I am very very pleased to get them, having no others of the family as a whole. Carol Ann is just like Bunch in the one where B is holding her, and just like Peter in the other. Peter must be very pleased with them. I'm going to get a folding frame for them. They are at the moment sitting on the table opposite me. Was so glad to hear that Xmas were happy day. Mr Boustred was very sweet about you all, and remembered so many things to tell me. He seemed to have enjoyed all his washing up wherever he stayed! He is very nice. He told me how you were all depressed on Sunday, and everything was marvellous on Xmas day and Bunch had lots of letters from Peter. Am so glad. And how you overfed him! I knew you would. He brought me too that sweet little diary from B. of which am v. glad. I keep such a terrific record of all my letters. Am sorry we could see so little of him.

      Life is very pleasant and happy with us at the moment. Seems too good to be true. Even the news is  encouraging - thank heaven. I had some letters from you Mummy on Friday, very delayed at, of 31st and 2nd. Also today at school a parcel of magazines including Poppy Day and Sport and Country, Donald adores latter. Mummy dear we are managing very well in the home keeping line, we can get a lot of stuff from the NAAFI. We get very generous rations, and quite a lot of odd tinned stuff. 1 1/2 lbs of sugar each per week, 1/4 pound tea and 1/2 a pound white flour. Am saving up all I can of the first two and will dispatch it home and we use very little sugar, as on a whole we don't have puddings. Donald doesn't like them, and they can't make them here - except creme caramel and pancakes. I am rather bad! Today I forgot to give him any money and a ration cards for the NAAFI. However he had some money of his own, and I rushed to the NAAFI this evening and got some bread!

     Must tell you this! Feel it will amuse you, I have been teaching the VIth form about the Midlands and unfortunately told them about hunting in the shires, then they wrote me an essay on it on Friday, Oh dear the frightful expressions that they managed to perpetrate on the subject, they'd make your hair stand on end Daddy!

     Just had a letter from you Mummy, Donald has just come in and we've had dinner, of last Sunday week, the 6th saying Bunchie and the children had gone away. You must miss them terribly. How maddening about Margaret spraining her ankle. But you can't manage without Beatie. Am very glad that you are going away too. Am sure it will do you both good. Mummy you are very sweet to send me £10. I feel overwhelmed, and I don't really need it except to be nice and extravagant. I am going to be very much so when I get my Xmas money too, spend some extra on clothes, as I think it's worth it so that I shall have masses to come home. Also wanted to buy some curtains for our bedroom. We do really quite well, as Donald gets very high allowances as the cost of living is so high. We're trying to get hold of Pug Adshead to ask him to dinner one night. I feel so guilty about him. We haven't had any one in at all really, except Pat and Leslie to dinner, one night. I am worried about Donald's clothes. He won't buy any ever. He only buys me things.

     Had a very pathetic letter from Mrs Swanson. It so dreadful. Dear Jim. Am very glad about Colin Bibby. What's Peter's address? There are some tinned asparagus at the NAAFI.

     I did send Aunt Bee some sweets had Xmas. How awful hasn't she had them. They went the same post as yours. All love R



151 

 

18:I:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

       Had your letter of the 12th last night Daddy and I am quite appalled about the house. I do think it's a filthy trick on Richard Shelton's part. It simply ridiculous. I suppose there is an absolute nothing that you can do. You did mention it to me before, in October or November I think, but I had imagined that it was all right as you said no more about it. You will buy the house wont you? It would be awful to think of losing it. I think it is the most beautiful house I know. Could you possibly by the Edwards farm as well? It's a mere £6,000 is not very unreasonable is it? I imagine that the cost of houses has gone up enormously too. Oh dear, I hope it won't spoil your holiday. He always was a horrid man. Thank goodness it Dick Shelton put that clause in his will. You will buy it wont you? I know you badly want a farm, but surely if they are breaking up the estate you could buy some more of it.

      To change to a happier subject. I am delighted with my rations, and have saved, with no effort, £2 of sugar, and am sending this to you today, also 2lb raisins. They are 10 pt (2/-) instead of 50 PT (10/-) in the shops! Do you want any tea, because please let me know. Mummy don't worry, I can get masses of washing soap quite cheaply in the NAAFI, and sometimes Lux or Palmolive or imported American toilet soap, and I know you're rationed. Coffee is also one of the few things you can get in the shops quite easily, about 5/- a lb, you buy it by the oke though, and it's 54 pt. an oke is 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 lbs, I get in such a muddle, some things are sold by the oke some by the kilo, and some by pounds, and some by the basket!

      We are unexpectedly going up to Alexandria for the weekend. Donald has to go and give evidence at a court of enquiry and I'm going too, I don't quite know whether we are going by road or rail. The trains to Alex are the only decent ones in the country. It will be nice for a change. I haven't been to Alex since we went for 10 days when I first got out here. The court of enquiry is a little difficult. It's on Donald's ex CO, the one he disliked so. The man constantly used his staff car as a private one, drove it up to Palestine etc and he's been caught. Incidentally the one he had before at 26 AACU, Dickie Dennison, whom he approved of, has just got the AFC a high award. At the same time as Otis got MBE. Incidentally Daddy thank you for your speech. I thought it very good and to the point .

     There doesn't seem to be very much to tell you at the moment. Jean Buckingham came and had tea yesterday. She is a nice person. She is at Kasr el Nil barracks which are only 10 minutes from us, and where I was for 6 months. So she comes to see us quite often. Marion is also only about 10 minutes from the flat.

     The news of the new offensive looks good doesn't it? If it is successful I should think it might even finish the war. My goodness it would be wonderful. Donald and are always talking about coming home. We have now decided to come by air direct. There is a superfluity of air transport. We decided this yesterday, can take 60 lbs each, and send the rest of our luggage  by boat. Rather makes me nervous, but everyone assures me the army is reliable.

     Well have a nice holiday and don't for goodness contemplate leaving the Manor House.

     I should love to have seen Stafford Owen Daddy. Do remember B and I always wanted to go via Dartmoor?! 

 

Lots of love R


English School, Cairo,

Sh Tayaran

Heliopolis

(152)

25:I:'45

 

Darling Mummy and Daddy.

 

     As always I am behind with my correspondence! It's really terrible. The days are so full. It's a week since I wrote. You must be in Devon now. Hope you're having a lovely time. Shall send this there. Must be very nice. I remember going to Falmouth ages ago. Had a letter and my blue and white blouse yesterday, from Bunch, thank goodness. Am delighted about Peter. I couldn't read the date, but I thought it was Feb 2nd. She wrote from Lytham, she does lead a busy life. It's a nuisance Margaret spraining her ankle like that. Hope she'll be better when Peter get back.

     Well some of my news. Donald and I unexpectedly, as I think I told you, dashed off to Alexandria for the weekend. He had to give evidence in the Summary of Evidence on his ex C.O.. I don't know the result yet, whether he will be court-martialled or not. It was a lovely weekend. I like Alex very much, we stayed quite a long way out next door to the Air HQ Eastern Mediterranean! (Yet another Air HQ!) Lovely hotel, right on seafront. I walked along to see Pauline and Rufus in the morning while Donald was there. They are both stationed in or near Alex. So nice seeing them again, haven't seen Rufus since she was married. Her husband is always in Alex so she is doing well! She's sweet. It was a lovely walk there, about two miles further out of Alex all along the seafront. The sea was rough and smelt lovely.. Then in the evening we went to the NAAFI GH Officers club and met Alan Maitland. He's just off to Ceylon so it was very lucky we were there. He's a nice boy, like a young small Donald. We had the most wonderful dinner I've had in Egypt - lovely prawns au gratin, strawberries and cream! Sorry to make your mouth water! I succeeded in having strawberries and cream for tea and for dinner, Oh they were beautiful. I remember that they were nice a shop in Alex called Pastrondis. I don't really think they are as nice as English ones. We came back from Alex on Sunday afternoon. Donald had to stay all the morning the point. We bought dishcloths at the NAAFI in Alex on Saturday night!

      On Monday afternoon some REME people from one of the Base Depots came and did a pantomime for the children. It was beautifully done I must say, marvellous scenery and clothes. An all-male cast! I laughed myself nearly silly, the babies absolutely adored it. It was the first pantomime most of them had ever seen. We had convalescents and repatriated PoWs as well, New Zealanders. I am at the moment taking the III form for an English lesson, and they are writing letters to thank the REME! Am most amused to think of you two going to see a pantomime. I am sure it will be very funny with Bobbie Howes in it. I should not see the Lyman Fontaine play, I have never seen them act.

      I have also just had a note from the Bank re. £10. Thank you very much indeed Mummy. It really Will be more than useful, as money always is. I am very sorry, I'm afraid I must moan about it a lot. It's just that the cost of living here is so idiotic. Everyone thinks our flat is lovely. Donald is having his camera mended and will take photographs. We are terribly happy. Today it am going to call for some napkins we have had made from airgraph fabric, a sort of fine linen. You can get them hem stitched quite cheaply. I'd do it myself but for lack of time.

     I sent you some sugar and raisins last week. Hope you will get them all right. The raisins did not cost 10 shillings, but two shillings so don't let that worry you but it is 10 shillings on the package for obvious reasons. Will send you some more next week. Do you want tea? I have a one-and-a-half pounds case? even know and will have more later.

     Otis is staying with us at the moment, he is on his way home on 61 days leave. Not the leave draw but ordinary leave as he's been here for four a half years. His family will be thrilled I know. He is taking some wonderful stuff home. I can't give him anything much though as he is only taking two suitcases. Have a nice holiday lots of love and thank you Mummy you do spoil me.

 


153

 

3:II:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

    Have just been saying goodbye to Otis, he's on his way back home, by the usual transit camp. He has been staying with us for the last week, waiting to go, I don't of course know when he will be off, he has promised to ring you up for me. He is going to get 61 days leave, and then will be coming back here. It is leave in lieu of Python. He has been out here for nearly five years. It is a very long time. It has been very nice, if hectic having him. We haven't seen so much of him as he has been out most of the time, and we have been working and having early breakfasts. Had a letter from you yesterday Daddy, and Donald has one at the office today which he forgot to bring home this morning. Yesterday's took an awful long time, 10 days, I have noticed lately that the mail does seem to be worse. It is an awful nuisance, I'm afraid I can hardly use this typewriter, it has new ribbon it, and it is so stiff I can hardly hit the keys, I think I shall have to write if it doesn't wear off, it wants oiling and cleaning. I must set Donald on to it.

     Donald has just had his camera mended and cleaned, and is now looking for a film, so soon you may get some pictures of the flat. The trouble is that all his things are in this state, having lived in the sand for two years, it is unlike sea sand, it is so fine, it seeps into everything, his great coat is have a nice shade of beige! I have just bought Donald a Mrs Beaton this afternoon, he has been dying for one, we want to know how to make all sorts of things. The natives are really rather careless, and can make very few things. We had great fun on Sunday night, Jean was here, and a great friend of Donald from 26 AACU. We made the most  wonderful vegetable soup, and it did for a complete dinner. It was Otis's recipe, and very near solid. We have decided to give our suffragi Sunday night off and play by ourselves. (I am sorry I simply had to give up typing it were altogether too difficult).

     I do hope that you enjoyed your holiday in Falmouth. I remember it quite well. My goodness me it must be bitterly cold at home now. I'm inclined to think the Egyptian winter over estimated, but I suppose it's wonderful compared with home, and would seem it if you came from home. Poor things, I do hope you can keep warm. Please will you let me have Peter's address. I saw some tinned asparagus the other day and have to tins waiting to be dispatched (revolting taste! Don't shudder Daddy!) Have also some more sugar and tea for you. Had a perfectly lovely parcel of magazines on Friday am. W. Journal, Vogue etc and Punch Xmas number. What a beautiful cover, like a willow pattern plate. We have in our flat the only crockery at that I have ever seen out here which matches, 6, white with a blue ring. You talked about the house again in your last letter Daddy, but don't seem to be making much progress. I do think it's the filthiest trick, but please please don't contemplate leaving. It's the loveliest home I have ever been to. I saw in Express and Star that Jill Mander was married. I saw her engagement in the Weekly Times. She looked exactly like Daphne in the photo, of course I see Daphne occasionally. Daddy, Donald is ringing up the works agent this pm and is going to see him. He said he be v. pleased to. Hope he doesn't live in a too out-of-bounds area! Thank you for the information we needn't ask him in! Most of Cairo is out of bounds except in vehicles, except the middle and the central Musky Street. Of course one easily gets out of bounds without knowing or bothering.

     Ma Maitland said in her letter today she had some Seville oranges, have you? I do hope so. Otis is taking them some. I must send them something. Hasn't Aunt Bee had the sweets I sent at Xmas? I shall be cross if they are lost, to her of all people!

 Well oodles of love R.


 

154

 

5:II:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

     Was v. pleased to get a lovely long letter from you this am, all about Falmouth. Am pleased to think of you there during all this terrible cold weather. So glad that the hotel is nice. It sounds v pleasant, am amazed to hear of the central heating. Poor Bunch must be having a grim time. I do hope that Margaret has got up there. Butters must also be busy. The war winters do seem to be dreadful. It would happen like that. I am at the moment taking detention, but it will be over in five minutes, all the senior mistresses take it in turn. It's rather a bore, but its only on Mondays about twice a term, and I get masses of books corrected in one hours silence! Then I shall struggle home and finish this letter. Donald will have gone by the time I get back. I can tell you what's happening to my letters. Like a fool, when the new letter cards came out, I wrote 2 to you, and it was about the time Mr Boustred was here. Then I discovered last week that they take ages long than these. I am sorry. I think I sent Bunch 1 too.

     Am now at home all washed and clean and tidy. Got in about 5.30. It's now 6.45. I had to do quite a bit of  washing and get myself a cup of tea. I bought Donald a Mrs Beaton the other day, he's mad on cooking. So on Sunday evening, we give Fatalla the evening off and cooked! Last night Donald made the most lovely onion soup, and on Wed, a v. good stew. He really can cook. It's priceless! Mummy really we can get everything here, so don't worry. Coffee from the NAAFI is quite cheap, about 1/3 per half-pound - outside its about two shillings. Re black market must tell you this. We are having a bit of trouble getting our paraffin ration straightened out. You know we do all the cooking on a Perfection stove and Primus. Donald got Fatalla a coupon yesterday for four Galls. Apparently it was out of date and he said at breakfast this a.m. that the grocer either wanted this month's ticket or 25 pt! (5/-). I roared with laughter. This country is so corrupt it isn't true. It is double the price of four gallons of paraffin that's all! 1 tin his normally 19 pt (4/-). Tomorrow am going to see the nuns at the convent with Marion to have some undies made (part of your Xmas present!) they make them wonderfully. Marion had some done. I also having some handkerchiefs, made from map linen - that blue transparent stuff Daddy. Yes Mummy I will send Aunt Bee some sweets, but I am most upset to hear that the ones I sent her at Xmas didn't get there. I am not stinting ourselves in any way. We have far more than we need. We're going to make some strawberry jam this week. We are busy trying to find some jars. Think it will be fun. Will do it one afternoon. I must see how Mrs Beaton tells you. Donald reads Mrs Beaton all day!

      The war seems to be going fantastically well at the moment. It really seems as though it might end soon, even in the spring I should think the Russians will move even faster. I'm afraid that a homecoming is dependent to some extent on the end of the war, I mean the German one. Donald now has now passed a danger point in his tour of duty, that is the likelihood of India, thank heavens but I think definitely whatever the progress of the war we shall be home this year. In fact I know it, thank heavens. It will be wonderful. Well it's all there are lots and lots of love R

 

We saw For Whom the Bell Tolls on Friday. It is good.


155

 

10:II:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

     Thought I would write to you this evening, as we have spent most of the day wandering around the Museum just next door to Kasr el Nil Barracks. I forget, did you go? We have a friend of Donald's staying with us from 26 A A C U and he knows a bit about these things. He promised to come up and tell us about it. It has only been open a month, and now only forces and wives with BFI (British forces identity) cards and can get in. It was really very interesting. It's quite fantastic the amount of stuff they got out of Tutankhamen's tomb is so amazing. Weighs about 250 lbs. And just working out the price in gold per fine ounce! I must say, it is all very impressive but very ugly! By the time you have seen all the gold beds and gold everything it's just like so much brass. I think the amazing thing is that it's lasted for 4000 years or so. Its quite staggering. I think Tutankhamen has a nice face. They must have been such a much finer race than Egyptians today, who really are the scum of the earth. I did know a very little about it all as I have been teaching and therefore knew a little of the goddess's and mode of life that etc. Am very glad we were able to get. I was afraid we shouldn't as it's been closed all war till Jan the first (?) It's certainly worth going to. Of course they have removed everything of value from everywhere and put it in the museum. There is nothing now be in any of the tombs at Luxor and Memphis. It's very valuable. They were MPs all over the jewels and actual sarcophagus Room! it was full of troops. We went this a.m. and afternoon. I enjoyed it so much 

     Have now just had a v. hot bath and am in the drawing room in my woolly dressing gown and Donald's. Must go and dress soon, as they have a party in Air HQ for the new C in C -  Air Marshall Medhurst, and the place will be cluttered up with A-Marshalls and AVMs! I am quite excited. I and a  squadron leader's wife are the only two people going except Air HQ staff. They have got some good food too! Harry, the man we live with, is doing it all. He's frightfully efficient. He's just waiting for his wing commander to come through. Amazing for an admin type non regular, to reach such dizzy heights. I am going to wear my black frock with the sequin Peter Pan collar, and sequinned tips to the belt. Its v pansy! Had a letter from you, Mummy, on Tuesday, in four days, written in the GWR hotel at Paddington. Am so glad you had such a pleasant holiday down in Cornwall, and hope to heaven that the pipes and everything else will be OK when you get home. I imagine it's hopeless getting a plumber. Its quite chilly but warm when moving about. Today I wore my jersey suit and your red blouse. The war news is marvellous. The war will be over in no time I think. And just going to hear the 730 news on the radio.

      Am so happy for B. that the Peter is coming on March 2nd. I hope you don't mind I am saying sending Nanny a parcel of food, raisins tea and sugar. Poor Nanny, I can't bear to think of it, don't you think really she'll ever get properly better?

 

All love R


156

 

12.II.45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

      No mail from you this morning which is disappointing. I usually get someone Monday am when I get to school. I think the English mail comes in on Sat. mornings. I'll probably get some tomorrow.

       Have had hectic weekend. I wrote to you on Saturday, after seeing the museum. This evening I made some fudge it. But I am afraid its not nearly as good as yours Mummy! I don't think I put enough butter in. Still it tastes quite nice. Haven't cut it yet. Donald and Harry aren't in yet, but immediately they get in, it will no doubt vanish! Next time it will be better. We had great fun last night. We usually send Fatalla out on Sunday  nights. We bought a chicken and curried it a la Mrs Beeton. It was a great success. This evening we are having soup made from the carcass by Donald! Funniest thing was drawing the chicken! We went round to the little market behind us at about 1030 and bought the chicken, but of course it had only just been killed and wasn't trussed. So I had a quick drink and plunged my hands into the chicken! It was quite successful. I got out the most incredible things. We spend days ahead thinking what we are we can cook on Sunday nights.

      The party for the new AOC in C - A.M. Medhurst was great fun. He's a funny little man, very small and all bald head. Lovely food.

      We had lunch on Sunday with Marion and a friend of hers. I see her usually about twice a week. She's only just down the road. Jean's gone on a course to ?? of all places but will be back in a month. Marion took me to a convent the other day, I don't know if I told you, to get some under clothes made. They do them divinely. And embroider wonderfully. I took some parachute silk for a slip and pants and some Lady Tedder shop crepe de chine (this is part of your Xmas present as they are wildly expensive!) I am getting short and just never have a moment to make any. Anyway my eyes wouldn't cope while working hard all day. However soon I have a fortnight's leave over Easter.

    I've had my hair all cut. I have had it cut very short all round my face, and permed last week. It now curls wildly all round my face, and is flat at the back of my head except the ends, everyone seemed to like it very much. Of course it's a wonderful style for bathing and the heat as all I have to do is put it under the shower after bathing. I never wear a cap now. In a couple of months it will be bathing time again. Do hope that it's not too cold at home. I sometimes feel thoroughly ?? out here living on the fatter the land. Hope I'll get some letters tomorrow. I long for the mail every day. Comes as 11:15am.

 

Lots of and lots of love R.


157

 

20.II.45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      As usual it is nearly a week since I wrote to you. I am so sorry, but I do live for in such a whirl. Half-term reports nearly finished me last week. You have to add up all marks for the subjects you take, and position people according to subjects, then do it for your form for total marks, then write remarks on all subjects for each child that you teach for that subject, then form reports, and house reports!

      Stanley Grant has been staying with us since Saturday. He was over on leave from Italy or rather duty. We were delighted to see him and return some of his hospitality. He's a dear. He went back this am. He is going home for a week's leave soon, and will see the Maitland's. He lives in Byfleet. He's very thin, he was as fat as Donald nearly, so we fed him up. He says Italy is terribly uncomfortable. He is at MAAF headquarters.

      Donald has been posted to Helio, which really is a bind. He has become chief technical officer of an air Publications Unit. He's cross about it. But there really wasn't enough work to do in Egypt. We shall continue  to stay where we are, and Donald will come and go by metro tram. He works from 8-0 until about 4:30pm. Won't get home to lunch which is a nuisance. However he will be there, we feel certain, till he comes home. Don't know the new address,. But it doesn't matter Harry will always bring the mail from Egypt. He had to go, because it means that he is running the technical side and most engineer officers are commissioned regular W.O's, and they are quite hopeless except for looking after engines. They had to find a V.R. like Donald. In some ways it is better, we works the same hours he is fairly assured of a job in Cairo till he is posted home.  Incidentally, you say I never told you where he was before - well when I first came out he was at FAYED, S. of Ismailia, and the last 16 months at El FIRDAN, north of Ismailia. I should think they are both on the map of Egypt in Times Atlas. On the canal. FAYED is on the Bitter Lake. They are just desert stations. Security was fairly strong when I first came. I was not allowed to mention Helio but might talk about Cairo. Of course now it's much more lax, war is so far away. It does seem very distant, though the news is excellent.

       We are having a lot of fun with our cooking. On Saturday night we turned Fatalla out again. We had soup made from lunch chops, broad bean, brains and bacon and strawberries. It was wonderful. We amuse ourselves so much shopping. We had a very funny time buying the brains in the market, trying to explain what they were. They were successful, though I hadn't the faintest idea what you did to them, however I skinned them and fried them. Mummy I have sent Aunt Bee today, a tin of boiled sweets, some sugar and tea. Am so sorry her Xmas parcel was lost. Do you want tea?

      I do hope that the pipes are all mended now, and you have got a new cistern, it must be awful. I think you are marvellous the way you are managing. You always sound so cheerful, and we live here on the fat of the land. I think it's excellent idea to have central heating.

      Have written to David for his birthday. Thank you Daddy for the addresses. Nearly time for Peter to come home. How thrilled Bunch must be. Do hope he arrives on the right day and everything goes off according to plan.

      Have had a terrific and lovely bunch of ordinary my mail. Some Times, (great competition for the crossword!) masses of Xmas magazines, Vogue, W. Journal, Punch etc. 2 Blackwood's and last night I had a parcel from Lizzie Arden. One was lost in August and she replaced it I am thrilled. The magazine's are waiting for me here. I shall be very popular at home when Donald and Harry see them!

 Lots of love R


Flt/Lt Maitland                                        Air Publications Unit

                                                                  RAF MEF

158                                                           25.II.'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

I thought you would be interested as I have just come back from watching the funeral of Dr Ahmed Maher Pasha, P.M. of Egypt who was assassinated last night in Parliament. You may have heard of it in the press or wireless. This country becomes more and more odd as time goes on. The PM was assassinated by member off the Wafdist[45] party who were in power till 3 months ago. The Wafdists were put in by the British in 41 or 42 and there's a fuss going on it in case Egyptians get the idea into their stupid fat heads that the British are behind the assassination. As if we would! Especially since Ahmed Maher Pasha was on the eve of declaring war and has wanted to do so since 42. Well anyway, they all have to pass the death sentence now on Lord Moyne's murderers, as they are both political crimes. Harry - our lodger - went as PA to the AOC Air HQ Egypt and marched with the VIPs. We were invited to go watch from the Continental Roof, where we sat in solitary state, in the middle of a flat roof, on three chairs, overlooking the main ceremonial square in Cairo next to the mosque. We were only one floor up and the King was in the balcony about 10 yards away! We went with a man who lives there, friend of Harry's and Donald's we were rather disappointed, there was no shooting, though everyone was armed to the teeth, and there were policemen literally in 000's. Still a few people had their heads cracked and they drove their horses into the crowd a few times, and then trampled on their toes, just to show. The procession was terrific. It lasted for an hour. Nearly all Egyptian army was out, marvellous cavalry. They have the most wonderful horses out here that I have ever seen. They are so well kept and the cavalry are excellent riders. There was a wonderful detachment of what must have been the King's bodyguard in red blue and gold and even better horses. First of all there was B.'s army, two battalions of Tank Corps, 200 RAF Regiment who were the smartest, Contingents of Dominion troops and Americans, who were quite the slackest, then all the Eg. army, bands and all. The Egyptians were very smart and did very well, then, the Marines - Egypt - were marvellously smart, the police then the VIPs Air Marshal Medhurst, General Paget etc. They also marched excellently, the cortege, and finally the mourners, the latter was an awful shock after impressive military parade. Killear was there. But all the mourners were mixed up and the crowd ranged in on them. I am glad to have seen it.

     Now after all that we had tea in the Continental, after the king had gone. He is a horrid fat man, and came home. We went and bought dinner in the market. We are having celery soup and the Vienne steak, Donald's quite potty about cooking. Poor Harry will be worn out. There is bags of panic, and all troops are as usual C.B'd[46]. We had quite a bit of trouble getting out through all the Red Caps[47].

      Don't think any anything very interesting has happened during the week, except all the parcel mail. I think I thanked you for some of that. I had about 6 parcels of stuff. Lovely still needing it all. Including a book on Spain and the one on maps, both of which look interesting. I read a good review in Punch of the Spain one. We saw one very good film this week, "Arsenic and Old Lace". I think you saw the play. We went for a very long walk this am all across the Nile, am now physically weary, a nice change. Had a nice quiet day yesterday, doing the washing and mending and seeing to my summer clothes. We are all trying to go to Luxor on the last trip this winter on 31st March I break-up on 29th March. No letters lately from you all love R


 

                                           Air Publications Unit,

                                           R. A. F. M.E.F.

                                 3:III:'45.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      Isn't it nice Donald has had the typewriter cleaned, and now I can use it again. It is as good as new. It was all full of sand before and wouldn't work properly. Now, apart from my mistakes, it is perfect!

   I shan't finish this letter now as I am hoping that there will be some mail in this evening when we go and see Harry at Air H.Q, Egypt. I haven't had any all the week, except one from Bunch and one from Aunt Bee. I am hoping and praying that Peter has arrived to-day according to schedule. Bunch would be so terribly upset if he didn't. It would be terrible for her. I am so longing to hear all about it. She has been counting on it for so long,

     It is Saturday afternoon, I am just willing for Donald to come into tea. It is a horrid day, all overcast. Egypt is horrid when the sun isn't shining. I had quite a busy morning, I do the shopping on Saturdays. I called in to see Marion. She is going home, at last they have allowed her posting. She has applied for a compassionate posting at least three times, and last, compassionate leave, and has got it and a posting as well. Jim, her husband has been putting his leave off and off in hopes. He is the only officer left in his squadron of tanks. Mow they are short listing him for Burma probably. Poor Marion. I shall miss her such a lot. Rufus is having a baby of all things! So she will be coming home soon, Bobby has been posted to India. Her husband. Robin went to Italy, about two days ago. I shall miss them all. Jean is due back from Palestine soon which will be nice.

     I have just packed you up a parcel of tea and sugar. I do hope that the first one of raisins and sugar has arrived. And Aunt Bee's and Nanny's too. I am so staggered about that parcel of sweets that I posted to her on Nov 1, turning up after all that time. There is another one on the way, to replace the one that I thought was lost.

    I wish Donald would arrive, I want my tea, it is 5-0. The streets are full of people selling apricot bloom, mish-mish! It is so pretty and reminds me of spring. I saw some daffodils too yesterday in a shop window.

    We are at the moment trying once again to fiddle our way down to Luxor on the last tour. It is on March 21st. after that, it shuts for the summer, I can't go on an earlier one, the R.A.F. run them v. cheaply. It is for 4 days, that is all the leave that Donald can take, as both he and the PI. Sgt are new, and the job is rather complex. He is now in charge of a large organisation out here doing all the publication of documents, official photographs, handbooks etc. From the technical side, he quite likes it,

   I have had rather a busy week. Had to stay late twice for extra lessons, 50 pt. per hour! Then once for one of my house matches. The latter I do not find very thrilling, when I haven't had anything to eat since 7-30 breakfast, and am yearning for my tea. But the children are so pleased when I watch, so I always stay. Then on Tuesday, General Paget, the G.O.C. M.E.F. came round the school, along with Sir Edward Grigg, the Minister Resident in Egypt, and I stayed to tea with them.  All these people now go around cluttered up with escorts and police and the like.

   Well I think I shall now go and put the kettle on, and hope Donald comes in time. I shall finish this when I discover if there is any mail, I met someone this a.m. who had had some to-day.

    8-0.  There was no mail this evening for me, I imagine that it must have gone to the school, now I shall have to wait till Monday morning!

    Sunday morning.  Donald has just been taking pictures of the flat to send to you, I do hope that they will be good.  It is so divinely sunny here in the early morning. I always long to stay instead of going to work.

   Afraid that there is no more news,  Will write again at the beginning of the week.

               Lots of love now.

 


160

 

8:III:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

 

Am not typing this because I am writing it at school during a free period.

 

    Well, we're going to Luxor on the 31st March for four days there and 2 nights in the train. We have got it all fixed up and the RAF have agreed to let me go on their tour, as long as I pay for my ticket. Donald will get a rail warrant. I don't know where we are staying. It's quite a I think it's quite a good idea to go on one of the tours as we shall then see everything. Shan't unfortunately see what the country is like going down as we go overnight, but I imagine it is the same as the Delta. Hope to heaven that it will all work out all right. Donald has his leave all fixed. He is chief witness at his ex C.O.'s court martial, and may not leave Cairo till it's over, but this should come off it anytime at all. You remember we went up to Alex for the court of enquiry. The C.M. is in Cairo.

    Was v glad to get a letter from you yesterday Daddy, of 28, yes Donald is going to see Mr Rofe. He does read quite a lot, but books are difficult to get here, and cost 20% or 25% rolled?? price. Could you possibly send him magazine called the engineer. I don't know what it is, but at Air Publications Unit, he has found some 1940 copies and reads them day and night. Its a very technical paper. I think it's weekly or fortnightly. It contains articles on all sorts of things like shipbuilding and bridges etc.

      Had two letters from Joy this morning. The mail has just come in, a happy excited letter from Bunch. I do hope Peter has arrived and everything is all right. Poor child, it will be so ghastly when he has to go back. Don't think I ever forget Donald coming out here.

      I think I told you Marion has got a posting home. We're going to have dinner in her mess tonight. I shall miss her. If she comes to Wolverhampton to see her mother in law she has promised to come and see you for me. You'll like her.

    I think the weather should be lovely at Luxor at Easter, not too hot, shall wear my new or very old renovated, white linen suit. I collected my underclothes from the convent yesterday. They are the most lovely things I have ever seen. I am having a pair of Camiknickers made for B. for her birthday. They are heavily embroidered in exquisite sewing. I have had a slip and pants in parachute silk for £3.10 shillings, and camiknickers in Lady Tedder shop crepe de Chine, for £2 (making only). My trousseau under clothes are all going and I just don't have time to make any. I can barely keep up with mending. It is nearly the end of the week which is lovely, we break up on Mar 29 and have a fortnight's holiday. I shall be glad of it. All the time I find something in the home wants doing. It might interest you to know that last month cost us £75 22pt. for the three of us, including £35 rent £3.20 gas and light and £9 wages. This is considered to be remarkably cheap! No doubt you don't consider it so though in the light of English living! It seems quite appalling to me. The trouble is in native countries you can't live cheaply. You must live as befits an English person!!

     How lovely spring sounds. Glad to hear all the crocuses haven't disappeared. I wrote to Nanny about 10 days ago. I am very distressed about it all it is dreadful.

 Lots and lots of love R.

 8 pm Just had a letter from you of Mar 4th Monday sent c/o D lovely.


(161)

                                               Air Publications Unit.

                                               R.A.F.      M.E.F.

                                   11:III:45.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

      Doesn't this typewriter type beautifully now, I am delighted with it. I am sorry I had to write one in the middle of the week, but on Thursdays I have a couple of free periods, and usually no corrections to do about that time of the week.

    We are having a nice p. and q. week-end, Donald is going to clean

out the Perfection stove this morning. It isn't working quite as it might, while I do the shopping.  Bob Parkin, Donald's great friend at El Fedan, where he was before he came here, is coming up for the night, he is due home any day, back to Australia, and is just coming up to see us before he goes. Marion is off any day too. Everyone is going or gone, we shall be left all by ourselves!

    We haven't done anything much all the week. On Thursday we went and had dinner with Marion in her mess, which was amusing. I thank my lucky stars all the time that I am well out of it. I was most amused at the cutting you sent me Mummy, from the Daily Sketch. It is taken outside the dhobi in Kasr Nil Barracks, where I was for 6 dreary months. I also thoroughly enjoyed the cutting in Punch, on leave in Cairo, all so true! We are not at the moment members of Gezira, as we only go so rarely in the winter, that it is not worth it, but we shall join at the end of March for the next 6 months for the swimming, though it is a lousy little pool, and abounds in disease, like sinus, impetigo etc. Still they all do, and I think one works up an immunity to those sort of things after a year or two here.

   I was v. pleased to get your letter of last Sunday evening, on Thursday Mummy, it was waiting here for me when I came in from school. Harry brings all Donald's and my mail from A.H.Q. when he comes, so it doesn't matter if you have had a whole batch of letters done. Harry runs the joint anyway, unofficially anyway. His wing Commander stripe is coming through this week, he thinks! Back dated to September.

   What lovely meals you are planning for Peter! I am jealous! Poor Bunch must he feeling incredibly miserable now, I suppose that Peter is due back to-day. It is ghastly for them, Still the news does seem to be so good. And Peter is always so optimistic, I think he is awfully good that he never complains, and he never has. Reading the paper this a.m. in bed, I do think it is bad the way they never give  the British army any publicity, it all goes to the Americans or Montgomery. It does out here anyway, of course it may be different at home , I hope it is. They don't give them any credit at all out here and I think it is very hard. But still to course this paper is about equal in stupidity to the Daily Mail, and far more inaccurate. The morning and evening editions always contradict each others! There is a general clamour for the Times when it arrives. I always enjoy it. Fortunately for some obscure reason we get the BBC overseas programme on the wireless, better that that we get the E.S.B. forces programme.

   How is the food situation? Is there anything I can send you? I have found out about ground almonds, but they don't exist out here now but in my next parcel I will send some whole ones, they are about 30 a kilo, unshelled, but I think you can get them shelled.

    Have just been having a long argument with the suffragi about having a small boy. It is a big flat I suppose for him to do all by himself. A small boy gets about 150pt. a month and 5 pt. a day for food. He could then do all the things which don't get done at the moment, the bath-room floor and the shoes and buttons, etc. Really the cost of living in Cairo simply paralyses me sometimes. Do you know that mutton is 9/- a kilo, about 2¼ pounds, you can't really eat beef, it is either camel, or water buffalo and incredibly tough. Fish is about the same price, ditto pork and veal. Everything without exception is at least double the price when I left home, and sometimes four and five times. Chickens, weighing about 2 lbs, are now 7/-. They have gone up 2/- in a month.

    Well I seem to have nattered on for a long time, I must go and do the shopping or I shall still be out when Bob arrives.

                 Lots of love for now,


162

                               F/Lt D. S. Maitland

                               Air Publications Unit,

                               17:III:'45.      

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

     I am v.v. glad to hear that you have bought the house. I was sure you would in the end. It would be so horrid to think of anyone else living there. The price seems ghastly.  Still I suppose as you say, it will save some income tax. You must be having a v. hectic time Mummy with all the cleaning. I don't know how you manage, more or less by yourself, I think it is marvellous. I suppose that B and the children are back now. You must be glad to have them. I suppose poor Bunch is feeling terribly dreary. I am sorry. I feel so helpless to help her out here. Still the news is excellent.

   Daddy, I was most amused at a sentence in your last letter, that you couldn't understand Egyptian politics. I don't think even the Egyptians themselves do! I certainly don't. Out here, anyway, one lives such an almost exclusively service life, I do less than most people having some civilian contacts in the school.

   It is almost the end of the term. I am dying for the holidays. Everyone gets very on edge at the end of the term. Reports next week, and then the week after, break up for a fortnight. I feel thoroughly scandalous, I am often in bed by 9-0! But it is so hopeless, if I get in the least tired, then my patience goes, and it is impossible to teach. Anyway I do so love going to bed early. This week, we were very noble, and went to a cinema, we were quite worn out before it started; The programme doesn't begin till 9-30, and you get out about 12-0 to 12-30. It is terribly late. It was Dear Octopus. A bad film, but I can quite see it would have made a wonderful play, I always wanted to see it.

     Everything is now all organised for out trip to Luxor. Donald's ex C.O.'s court martial has been cancelled, thank goodness, so it will be all right. I am looking forward to it. Harry's girl friend has just been, and said that it was very well done. Am getting out khaki drill for Donald, (k.d.). Clothes are a bit of a problem, I don't know how hot it will be. The services go into k.d. on April 15th. Though at the moment I am frozen solid most of the time, I think it is colder now than it has been all the winter. I am sitting about a foot from an electric fire, which Harry pinched from somewhere, now.

      Mummy, would you please send me the recipe for chocolate soufflé? I should like to try and make one, though I feel it wouldn't be like Ma. Jay's! We now have a small boy, whom we pay 150 a month. He seems quite good, and poor little thing seems to be destined to do all the work in the house. He was very funny this am. I had breakfast in bed, and got up at 9-0. He nipped in while I was washing clothes in the bathroom, in my dressing gown and seemed quite unable to understand what I meant when I wanted him to go while I dressed: Suffragies are never happy unless they have something small to tyrranise.

    Had a letter from you yesterday. Mummy, of last Sunday, I do think that they are a little quicker by military mail, I reckon that there is only one proper service a week, civilian, and if you are lucky if you catch it, while military seem to come any time any day.

    Donald seems quite happy in his new job, I think he likes running the joint, and it gives him endless opportunity to poke his nose into everything! He is in charge of printing everything for M.E.P., and M.A.A.F. On the technical side. He is hoping to go to Italy, next term, after my holiday, for a few days. It would be lovely, and anyway they have silk stockings there, and Lizzie Arden. Unfortunately it is imposs to fiddle me there. I should love to go.

    Well, I don't think there is anything much more to tell you at the moment, I am rather dopey, having spent all the morning sewing, and it is now 3-0. I think I will go for a little walk, and change the library books before tea. Donald said he would try and come in early. He usually arrives about 5-40, He has Sunday off.

     Well, lots of love for now.

   Mummy, don't for goodness sake, worry about your writing, I can always read every word! Which is often more than I can do with Daddy's and Bunch's if I am not sure of some place or name!

   Marion left by air Thursday morning.

 


163

A.P.U.

R.A.F.   MEF.

22:III:'45.

 

  My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

        I am sitting in the bedroom typing this as Donald is unfortunately in bed with some sort of a fever, he had a temperature of lO2 yesterday and 101 this a.m. but it is down to 100 now. The M.0. came in this a.m. and couldn't find anything wrong. But he seems better to-night. He is so dreadful when he has to stay in bed, quite as bad as you Daddy! Still I think he may be up to-morrow. A pity as we were going round to see John Oliver to-night for a drink. He came to dinner with us the other night. He is a charming man. But he looks a lot older. He is the deputy Air Officer for M.E.F. Quite an important job.

      Haven't had any mall from you since I wrote last Saturday. There was a letter waiting for me at school on Monday from Francis saying that she has got engaged to a S.A.A.F. Capt. who is stationed at an aerodrome in Palestine I know of quite well. So Donald wrote him a note and asked him to drop in when he next comes to Cairo. I am v. glad. They are going to be married when his tour of duty is finished in July, when he will go back to Durban. She sounded v. happy. I also had a letter from Nanny, saying that she thought she was getting better gradually. Oh dear it is worrying, poor little Nanny. I am so sorry.                               

     Of all things, we suddenly went and looked at the citadel on Sunday afternoon. Donald decided he wanted to take some photographs. I of course have been up there several times to the British barracks, which are right in the citadel, but I have never been round the Mohammed Ali Mosque. It is not very interesting, as it is only a hundred years old, though the guide seemed to think that this was very old! It is for Egypt, everything falls down five minutes after it has been built, except the Pyramids. But there was the most lovely view of   Cairo from the top. And the mosque wasn't nearly as ugly as most of the churches in Palestine, The courtyard is quite nice, fairly open and unadorned. Donald has taken lots of pictures. I am quite glad we have been. The barracks always amaze me, they are almost mediaeval, you go through great oak doors, and the walls are so thick, and covered with great big padlocks, made by Union, as are all the W.D. locks out here. I nearly got had up in the barracks one day wandering around looking at them all, they thought I wanted to steal the stuff I suppose! I think I told you about it.

     I think that Donald's photographs have come out very well of the flat, we have just got the negative at the moment, but he is going to get it enlarged and printed at the above! Then I will send you them. I think there is quite a good one of me. This I expect will turn out to be a delusion!

       I am very busy with reports. There has been a thing about them. It seems that whatever you say, the parents ring up and argue. I do think that the parents are badly behaved out here, you never used to bind, and I never remember anyone else's parents doing so. It is all these dreadful Cairene's of course I suppose. But some of the half and half children are really so awful that it is difficult to think what to say. I have compromised by saying, weak and makes little effort. I think this is fairly innocuous. Some parents ring up and say they can't have their daughter staying in to detention, and just don't send them on Mondays, when there is detention! The trouble is that the classes are so mixed, that is the difference between the English School, and all the ones, at home, you get the highest and the lowest. It quite frightens me out here seeing some of the terrible children which are the lowest of the low out here, and seeing how their  families are responsible for it. All the bad and difficult children seem to have wrong families. Some of the English children come from such incredibly poor home's, with after-the-last-war-discharged-Tommies and local very low class mothers. It really does make you think. You never see the results of these mixed marriages at home. I think I must have told you that Donald's idea of the best cure for them is to station anyone who applies to marry a local outside the families NAAFI for the morning to watch the results of the other poor unfortunates. They are quite attractive in a dark way till they are about 25, and then... Sorry to rant, but I think the English race are better and better the longer I live out here!


164                                          Air Publications.

                                             R.A.F.      M.E.F.

                             4:IV:'45

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

              I am feeling very guilty as I have not written to you for nearly a fortnight. Donald, went into hospital two days after I last wrote with, I eventually discovered, peripheral pneumonia. It was slight, but is taking ages to clear up completely. He came home yesterday, but has to stay in bed for a couple more days, and won't be able to go back to work again for a week or so I think. Be has no temperature, and hasn't had for 10 days, but the X ray taken on Monday still shows a slight patch, The M.O. couldn't hear anything either. I have been terribly worried. You can never find out exactly what is the matter in these military hospitals. I am so terrified of anything to do with lungs, as T.B. is very rife among the natives out here. He will be very week when he gets up for tea to-morrow! He is bored to death, and has even been making leather animals, which are sweet! To-day he has been trying to learn how to mend my stockings invisibly!

    Well, I am afraid Luxor is no more for the moment, which is v. disappointing. I was looking forward to it. We seem doomed. I have only a week more holiday. It is maddening. We had everything all organised. Still I am so relieved to get him out of hospital, as I thought that I was going to spend all my fortnight seeing him from 4-50 to 6-30 only.

    It has suddenly become nearly summer. There was a v. bad sand storm at the end of the week, and now it is hot. Or warm, and I can't get into any of my summer frocks! Am having them all let out, My renovated white suit looks wonderful, I collected it this morning. I shall wear it for a wedding on Saturday. I think Donald will be fit to go.

     Oh Mummy, I knew I meant to say something. For goodness sake don't worry about any of the prices I put on the outside of parcels, they don't mean a thing. That fruit actually cost 2/- I think, but the local price is 5/- a lb! Really I can't explain why, but just disregard it. I do hope that you have got some, more of the parcels. I must pack another one. I have some sugar. I made Donald some fudge while he was in hospital, but it wasn't nearly as good as yours, of course one can't get decent butter and the right milk. I will most certainly get you a nightie made as soon as I can. At the moment I can do nothing as I get the stuff from the Lady Tedder shop, and Donald has to go with me to sign the bill, but as soon as he is better we will go, I want to see if they have any English cotton too. I collected Bunch's birthday present too yesterday from the nuns, and am trying to find a way to get it home quickly, I think Harry can fix it.                                                    

   How lovely orange gin! It is v. clever of you. To-day we got some Seville orange marmalade from the NAAFI, the first we have had. I do hope it is good. Normally we get Palestinian sweet orange stuff, which is more like jam.

       Daddy, thank you very much for ordering the Engineer for Donald, he is v. pleased, ditto Blackwoods, which we all like. I don’t know what it is like at home, but here, with the exception of the books you send, I can pretty near never find a book I really want to read. I don't think much worth reading is published.   

   You must be very glad to have Bunch and the children back again. I think that the war will be over very soon. Though I don't like this idea of organised resistance ending, not really the war.

   I saw Margie yesterday, she said she hoped to fly home.

  _I am sorry this is very badly typed, I am doing it on a chair sitting on the bed, Donald is so bored! He has been very good, still to-morrow he will be able to get up for a little, but he has to be so careful not to catch cold.

   Thank you v. much for the recipe of chocolate soufflé, I shall try it. We are Having stewed pigeons to-night, Fatalla does them very well, you can't buy meat on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and you can't keep it nowadays.

     Lots and lots of love, I am afraid this is rather a distrait letter, I am not in a letter writing mood, and I can never write a decent one if I am not.

 


165

APU

RAF MEEF

9:IV:'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy

             Life is still a little chaotic.' Donald is much better, and went to the hospital to see the M.O. this morning. He had an X ray, and there is still a little tiny bit of pneumonia left, and as so he has another weeks sick leave, and has to go back in another 8 days. Isn't it silly that such a mild dose of pneumonia should take so long to heal up. He saw all his X rays this a.m. and says that they are much better. To crown this I have got German measles again! But this is of the mildest sort, nothing like as bad as the last time, merely a rash, no temperature, and a few odd glands. Of course so many of the children had measles of both types last term and mumps. I don't suppose that I will give it to Donald, he didn't get it last time. So I am not bothering, and just going on as usual, the only thing is I shan't be able to go back till after the week-end. It is v. lucky.

      We are being v. lazy. We walked over to Gezisa for tea. On the way we called in at Kasr el Nil Barracks, where they have a model of a prefabricated house. It was v. interesting. Donald was very intrigued. I must say they are not as bad as I thought. Though they seem wee compared with the houses out here. I must say I wouldn't like to live in one though. The kitchen is wonderfully  squeezed in. We saw Pug and Margie at the club, playing croquet. Pug is very keen. She doesn't know any more at the moment about going home. Did you know that June is doing occupational therapy? She is at the R.A.F. hospital where Donald was, and brought him some leather toys which he sewd up and brought home.

     I haven't had any mail for ages, with Donald being on a fortnights sick leave, and now I can't go to the school and collect mine. (I do think it a little undignified to have German measles twice after the age of 20! Please don't think I am ill, I am not at all, only spotty! I am dying for some mail, Donald is going out to Almaza to-morrow morning to Base Accounts to see about his allowances, and will collect mine then, the school is just next door. Incidentally I think I told  you that military mail is almost always quicker. Someone had a forces letter about two days ago, which took 4 days. I have had a few letter cards in that time.

      This I feel will please you, Donald and I are going to learn bridge. We are going to have dinner with Donald's dentist friend, (Charterhouse) who does my teeth, and he is going to teach us. We have succumbed. We have of course done nothing for ages. Norman, the dentist came to dinner last night, and that is the only time we have done anything for about three weeks, since Donald was first ill. All he has to do now is rest, and vegetate .

      Donald's photographs of the flat and the citadel have been developed, but v. badly printed, and so he is going to get them done again, and then I will post them. Under the new system you should get them quite soon. They are good. There is one quite decent one of me.

    During the week, I have been getting out cotton frocks, as it is now pretty near summer, and hot, Of course I can only get into two, and Donald can't get into a single pair of shorts or trousers! That is what comes of living fatly in a flat.

    The news seems excellent. The M.E. is full or orders for what one can do on Armistice day, or rather what one can't. There are all sorts of nice orders out, such as the A.0.C. in C, hopes that the R.A.F. will restrain from beating up the civilian population etc! Some hope. All aircraft to be grounded etc, etc. It is wonderful. You must appreciate the news even more at home being so much closer.

The British army is doing wonderfully well, and I am glad to see that they are getting some credit for once.

     Well I shall v. much look forward to getting some mail to-morrow. Oh I have had two Times though. We have been doing the X-word all the afternoon.

             Goodnight, and lots and lots of love,

 

 

 


166

 

18.IV.'45

 

My Darling Mummy,

     We are still a house full of invalids. Donald is now I think OK. He is still on sick leave, but went to day for his last X-ray - we hope - and he will have to go back tomorrow and see that his lung is quite all right. As I told you he has had peripheral pneumonia "a typical pneumonia of the right base...". He is however fatter than ever, and quite unable to wear any of last year's KD. The RAF Army and Navy went into it last Monday. There are as a result the usual piebald collection of everyone in a different uniform, usually a mixture of battledress and KD.

      The silliest thing of all is that I have been in bed all the week with mumps!! Last time I wrote I thought I had German measles, while about 24 hours later, I got ??? glands, and hopped next door to the doctor - school is free - who confirmed it. It's a revolting diseases. So painful. I couldn't eat at all for three days or so, but had no temperature. Then of course I got up, and we went to Gazira Club for the afternoon, and for the first time in my life, got a touch of the sun!! Am getting up again tomorrow. Am alright now. A touch of the sun in Cairo in April, and I've sunbathed on the equator in March at midday. And slept all the afternoon in the blazing sun. I was furious. I saw Margie Adshead that day, and she was expecting to fly any day, so you may by now have seen her. I meant to write you that day, but retired to bed instead. I fear Pug will miss her.

      I am hurrying back to school next week in time, I hope, to get my 2 days holiday! The news is wonderful. In the letters today there was a Times of 4th April (posted 13th) and thinking how new it was, saw what an incredible amount we have progressed since then (The Ruhr pocket fell today). Yes I quite agree with you V day is a little flat, because of Burma, the one thing I hope is Peter manages not to go. I'm sure that is why Bunch is ill. I had no idea till letters this morning what was wrong, that's obviously the cause. Its so worrying for you all. I do think that the end of the European war will make everyone more cheerful. Shall be longing to hear about Nanny. I must write to her. I meant to do so much during my holidays, and all that's been going on is one of us being ill.

     The one thing I am v sorry about is I forgot your wedding anniversary. I am sorry, it was silly of me. Mummy in the thick of the ?? I remembered B's birthday - today. Your brooch sounds lovely Ma. Daddy I think it would be a lovely idea if you would buy us furniture as a birthday present. We can get nothing out here. I've just mention it to Donald, who is writing to his family. Otis is still in Byfleet, though we have heard little of him. Letters I am today were yours Daddy of 4ht (redirected from school) 12th,  95 and 96 and Ma of  tenth, one from Bunch yesterday. I wrote to the Cyril's months ago, before Xmas. Whatever I do write do with them seems to go wrong! I will again there. I am amazed at Eunice.

    I do hope the Manchester doctor will be able to do something for Bunch. Her headaches seem to be getting worse as time goes by. I am sending some not very well printed photographs by this post. Donald has just bought is just sorting them. We have been keeping them to get them reprinted, but he's been away from work when he could get them done for so long. They should arrive as quickly as this. They're in an ordinary envelope. Oh I didn't tell you, Donald has changed his camera, he hasn't got the new one as he had to get some money. He adores cameras. A Leica 35mm. Will send you all the lot when Donald gets them done properly.

With All love, R.

Am so glad Bert and Tom are well anyway


167

26.IV.'45

 

My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

    Afraid that this will be a very dull letter as there is so little to tell you. I am still mumpy which is such a bore, and go quietly. We haven't been out or done anything for ages and ages! It has suddenly got hot, Tuesday was max 91 degrees 5 higher than normal. But I have chucked all the winter clothes away quickly, carted  them off to the cleaners and the stoppers. Am hoping and praying that there won't be too many greedy insects in this house during the summer. I shall rap my things up in newspapers and put them in my tin trunk. What I want to get some DDT.

    Have been busy this week making some notes on USA for the VI form. They take Matric in about a fortnight. Donald got them roneo'd[48] for me. I feel so guilty about them. These last few weeks make a lot of difference, and there's no one else who can help them. I feel so guilty in general about being away so long. It means so much work for the already overworked senior staff. Also I teach more periods than anyone else in the school, the French mistress was away with pneumonia for for a fortnight last term, and it was awful, we never had any free periods. They are only four of us and the French French mistress, who can only take French, and 5 forms to cope with, and two people often teach the boys. Still as from 1st May, there is only morning school. This will be very nice. I hope to go back on Tuesday or Wednesday. Donald is now back at work again, so we are gradually getting back to normal.

   Have had one letter from you since I last wrote Mummy, saying Marion had rung up. Am so glad. Still I knew she would. I do miss her awfully. I must write to her. Jean came in and told me all about you your phone call as Marion had written to Nancy! There is only Jean left here now. She is still at Kasr el Nil Barracks. Poor Jean she does hate it, she came to see me yesterday + a huge bouquet of larkspur. I also had one Cambridge voting form which I filled up and returned the next day. I have of course put you two down. Donald has apparently done his also. In the Whittaker you sent, I looked up the candidates for Oxford and Cambridge, and to my extreme amusement 2 Cons. candidates each!! This I think he's a nice reflection on the more mature judgement of the erstwhile very red Varsity students! Incidentally thank you v. much for the Whittaker, Donald, Harry and I find it fascinating. I always have.

    I am v. envious to hear of you having new potatoes. I send you a parcel off yesterday of groceries. Don't query the price on the outside, it won't be correct I assure you. Sugar and raisins. We seem to have accumulated pounds of sugar while I have been in bed. Tonight we are having Scotch eggs for dinner, I spent a long time this morning trying to explain in very simple words what they were. I shall be interested to see the result! Sometimes we get the oddest things when I order what I think is quite normal.

    Sorry Mummy, I meant to answer your cigarettes. Donald would love some Dobies Four-square cigarettes, made in Paisley. I forgot all about it. I gave up smoking nearly a year ago. About May '44. I kept smoking too much, and not feeling well, and anyway it was v. expensive. So now I have quite lost any desire to smoke.

    I hope in my next letter to be able tell you what is going on. My plans have been upset by mumps. But I hope on about Monday to be able to write and tell you all about the future. Then you'll understand.

 

All love R


168        

                                                A.P.U.   R.A.F.

                                                   M.E.F.

                            3:V:'45.

My Darling Mummy and Daddy.

                             THIS IS A VERY MOMENTOUS LETTER!

I have gone quite mad not being able to tell you this, that now I shall burst. We're going to have a baby at the end of October! I do hope that you will be as pleased as we are about it all. It should be Oct 26, but will probably be any date but then. Now I had better do some of the multitudinous explaining,

     First of course I meant to tell you ages ago, then at the crucial moment I went and got mumps. This was all right, but I got the only complication you can have with mumps, which is inflammation of the ovaries, and as the doctor pointed out, the last thing you want to get when growing a child. So as a result, I have been in bed nearly all the time for 3 weeks, some of it I felt awful, due to my innards, most of it I felt quite o.k, but had to as a precaution. He filled me up with injections of some stuff called Progestin, and tablets of Ephinal, over the right moments, and I think now the danger is more or less over. (This is all for Dr Curtis benefit Mummy, as I am sure you will ring him up at once and ask what all this signifies!) He is a super cautious doctor, I think, and very nice. I am telling you all this, in case I have to write all of a sudden and say it is no longer so. However, the inflammation has not a lasting effect at all, and I am even allowed to go back to school on Monday. It Is such a relief it is more or less all over. Donald has been wonderful, because as you can imagine I have been in such a state for the last fortnight or so.

     This part of the letter, I know will upset you. Because I am going to have the baby here. There is a very good nursing home, the Anglo American hospital. And I know a lot of people who have had babies there. It is quite the nicest nursing home I have ever been in, on Gezira, overlooking the club grounds, with a beautiful garden, where they push you out almost immediately. You see Donald's tour of duty is not up really till February. But they are reducing the tours by three months, therefore I am v. much hoping that we might be home for Xmas.

I might manage to come home from the school in about July, but I don't want to leave Donald now we have got so beautifully settled, and knowing he will be in Cairo till he goes home, and secondly I have no desire to travel by myself about 5 months off having a baby. Thirdly, unless I could get away be the end of June, the boats wouldn't take me, as there is a ruling about taking women home after four months, it is just not allowed after about four. I know that you are going to be awfully upset about me not coming home. It is worrying me v. much, and I shall miss you very much and feel very odd and lonely and strange, I do now, wondering what to do and get etc. Though I haven't allowed myself to think about it at all in case I had a miscarriage. Please do try not to be too hurt and worried, I know just what you will be thinking. But I must stay with Donald. He is so sweet and pleased and happy.

    I don't know if I have been wrong not telling you before that Donald's tour of duty is not up till February, but I did feel last year that it was so depressingly long, that it was much better if you didn't know. However, now I think it is being reduced just a little, it doesn't seem so bad. The trouble is that the army go home so often under their time, but the R.A.F. never, 3 years married and separated, 4 years unmarried or not separated. It is such a time 4

years. Still with the end of the German war, it is possible we may get home a bit earlier too. I keep hoping that. BUT Donald has one great advantage out of this, which I am sure you will see. It is practically impossible for him to go to the Far East If we are not home till Xmas, and then he has to do 6 months in England, before he can be posted overseas again, that makes it the middle of '46, and by then surely they won't be sending men to India in any quantity. This is a great consolation, as the Far East terrifies me much more than anywhere else.

  Oh dear I fell so worried about the terrific plans and organisation in this letter, I am so worried that you wi1! be so upset about me not coming home. But honestly I will be all right, I have quite got over my mumps complication and feel quite all right again, quite normal in fact, and I am so pleased to feel well again. The Doctor is I think good, and the hospital certainly is, completely English. You can't get in unless you are ENGLISH or American, even if you have a British passport. That means so much here. All English nurses etc. The school pays a subscription for me, and therefore I get some cheap rates, the whole thing cost, including the doctors fees for everything for everything for 9 months, is £25 plus about £6 for dressings drugs etc. I was amazed, as I know the other girls I knew had to pay about £4S. It is the school subs which do it.

Cont in my next.


169

 

    I suppose all the injections and things I have had lately will be more but

still. However financially we shall manage, and at the moment it is no expense!

     My tummy is getting chubby. I think I am just going to carry it off till the end of term! I can't quite make up my mind to admit it to the children when I leave because I shall see half of them so often in Cairo and at the Club, when there is no doubt. However, there is still another 6 weeks. Of course I can't get into any of my summer frocks, except two, as they all have tight waists. So I am trying not to crease myself etc, while they are being let out! It ruined all my plans, being in bed for 3 weeks while summer ended and winter began. Sorry, the other way round.  

    I am so delighted to be able to tell you after all this enforced wait. Do hope to heaven I am not challenging fate too much! I am so superstitious over that sort of thing.

     You needn't worry about too much work at the school. I have missed nearly half the term. I feel v. guilty about it, though I have had three weeks quarantine, up this week, which I couldn't help. Then as from May 1st, there is no afternoon school, and I shall be home for lunch every day about 2-0. And it ends anyway on June 19.

     I was so upset too when I thought all our plans had gone haywire, because it all fitted in so well. I had to finish at the school, and then there was just time to have the baby. and be well enough to come home. It is all so well organised in the time scale, that I am afraid, there must be a flaw somewhere!

     You know really you won't miss much. Babies are so uninteresting till they get a little sense. And you will see ours long before it does! You won't miss all the nice part, like I am, of Bunch's.

    I shall be extremely narked if I don't have a son! I warn you! At the moment, it is simply known as Anthony-Jane!

     I am sorry, I sha11 go on natter natter natter. I have been so dying to tell you, and that is why my letters have been so bad and sparse lately. All I have done is lie in bed and wonder. Oh I saw Margie in the odd day or two I was allowed up, in the middle, about 10 days ago. I am so pleased that you have seen her. I know she will be able to tell you so much that you wanted to know. We ran into them quite often at Gezira. I am sorry for them they live such a split life. John is going into the Indian army. June is most attractive. She went to see Donald several times when he was in bed. She works in the hospital.

     I had a couple of letters from home on Tuesday. They took rather a long time. One from Mummy, Margie was coming that day. And one from Bunch. Written last Tuesday. She sounded v. pleased with all her birthday things. I do so look forward to mail. Of course I am in a fever of anticipation for you answer to this. Donald is writing by the same mail to the Maitlands. I do hope that they

will arrive by the same mall. Donald is rather horrid and says he will take a picture of me on the 1st of every month! This is very depressing as I have got so fat anyway!

   I must get Angela a birthday present. Now I can stump around again.

      Oh dear, now I have nattered through nearly two letter cards, and it is nearly time for lunch. Harry will be in soon. However in every letter now I can elaborate.

      I ought to make some comments on the news, It is all so terrific, I am sorry, I am so enthralled by my own affairs! All the Germans in Italy packed in to-day. This is marvellous. I think the fighting in Italy has been v. sticky. We often get people here on leave. I do hope Merriall's family are all right. The allies took Voghera a few days ago. It is 40 miles S. of Milan. Then Hitler dead. I think there will have been an armistice before you get this. I feel quite lost and exhausted by the speed of everything. I used to lie in bed hem-stitching handkerchiefs and listening to one bit of momentous news after another. I am surprised about the Times attitude Daddy. I do think that the Japs are disintegrating fast. The news in Burma is excellent. I am so hoping and praying Peter won't get sent there. I imagine that the moral effect of the collapse of Germany will have some moral effect in Japan too.

     Well I had better end now I suppose. 0 I hope I haven't been too premature telling you. It is 3 months and one week now.

      I will make you a handkerchief Mummy. They are out of that pre-war tracing linen. Donald got me quite a lot of odd squares of old maps, which we boiled and washed. Beautiful linen. The nuns made me four with initials. And I have made three in bed, It takes ages of course, it is so fine. I am sending Nanny one, thought she would like it, I have just started another. They are not very beautiful, as I have only hemstitched them. I can't initial them without a frame.   But I like doing them.  I have lots of sitting around to do! I hope.                   

       Now don't worry.     

        Lots and lots of love,

 


170

                                             c/o F/L Maitland,

                                             A.P.U.

                                             R.A.F.

                                             M.E.F.

                               7:V:'45.

 My Darling Mummy and Daddy,

                        Have just been listening to, the 10-30 Cairo news. Hourly awaiting Mr Churchill's announcement that the war with Germany is over. It seems all too fantastic for words. I can hardly believe it. I keep wanting to burst into tears! I was pleased when all the troops in Holland and N. Germany surrendered to General Montgomery, knowing that now Peter will be all right. And of course nearly all the other British troops. Probably the day the war is over you will get a letter from me saying about the baby. I think it should arrive to-day or to-morrow, we tried to get the post which catches the non-stop York. If we did, you might get them today. I should think you wil1 be quite exhausted after all this news! I don't think that the Japs will last long after this. It will be  so odd to be at peace, I have almost forgotten what it was like.

    I went to see Dr Hamilton on Saturday morning just to check up before I go back to school. He said that he thought now it was quite safe enough to write to you, I had to confess that I had already done so, as I couldn't restrain myself any longer! He is a nice man.

  Yesterday, Sunday, we pottered over to the Anglo American  booked me a room. And collected a list of things wanted, none of which are obtainable in Egypt I imagine! Donald took some photographs of it. Then we walked across the golf course to the Club for lunch. We ran straight into Pug, who insisted we had lunch with him He seems very well, and relayed all Margie's remarks about you and Home, which was v. nice. We asked them to dinner on Saturday. June is a nice girl.

    Oh, before I forget, would you please let me know in the very next letter anyone writes, what sort of sandals Bunch wants for her and Carol Ann, Egypt has all kinds and types. White, red blue, multi colour, just ordinary flat camel hide, cork soles in all colours, rope soles in all colours etc. In fact every imaginable sandal. Of course it is no wonder as you wear them for more than half  the year. I am going to get some rope soled this year, they are very comfortable. They don't last 5 minutes of course, typical Egyptian stuff. Oh Mummy, I went to the Lady Tedder shop, the R.A.F. one, and got you some peach silk the same as Bunch's, Syrian, for a nightie and slip, and will take it to the convent on Wednesday evening. They^ will take about 3 weeks or a month I expect. I have just discovered that now wives, as long as they produce an Identity card can go and get stuff. Before Donald has always had to come and sign the bill. This has made it very difficult, as it is shut on Sundays, as he works all the time it is open. That is why I have been so long getting your stuff.

    It is a holiday called Shem el Messim today, which means, smell the spring. So I am cooking lunch and dinner. The suffragi came in and got breakfast. I get a holiday from school. This country lives in a whirl of holidays as I told you. The banks have had two holidays this week.

     Donald did a real Mrs Beaton last night, which was delicious. Pigeons cooked in all sorts of fancy things. However to-night we shall have spam, they had some by the lb in the NAAFI on Saturday, and salad!

    Oh dear, Fatallah has come in and said there is no liver, so I shall have to think of something else fairly cheap I can cook for lunch for Harry and me!

    I am quite appalled to read all about the cold and snow at home. I am afraid all the fruit crop will be ruined. It is maddening and disappointing for you.

   It is so hot here, and to-day looks like being